Tips to avoid being ‘that guy’ on social media

June 20, 2011

Awhile back, I took on a freelance editing project with someone I knew through my local social media community. Seemed like a well-respected, good guy — someone you definitely want to work with if you get the opportunity.

After the project was completed, I requested to connect with him on LinkedIn (that’s what you do nowadays, right?) Today, I couldn’t regret that decision more.

He’s “that guy” on LinkedIn, who updates every couple of hours and doesn’t really bother to keep the content interesting. Most of his messages consist of the words “HIRE ME,” and he sounds more like a TV commercial than a real person. I’m pretty sure he subscribes to the “spray and pray” mentality — update all of your social networks as often as possible with why I should hire you, and eventually maybe he gets a bite from someone.

The problem is he’s alienating about 80% of his audience by filling our streams with self-serving, self-promoting content that is pretty irrelevant unless I’m in the market for a speaker about networking. So in honor of “that guy,” I want to offer you a few tips for interacting in this space:

Don’t sync your updates. And what I mean by that is: Don’t feed all of your tweets from Twitter into LinkedIn, for example. There are two schools of thought on this, and some will argue that it’s perfectly OK to syndicate your updates between networks, but I argue that these are very different communities, each with their own set of “rules” and best practices. If I’m browsing LinkedIn, I don’t want to see @replies and RTs and addresses clogging up my feed. While I think there are cases when it makes sense to share the same link or piece of information across all networks, take the extra time to upload it manually on each individual site. Your friends and colleagues will thank you for it.

Don’t be all take and no give. Like the “that guy” in my LinkedIn page, some people fall into the habit of only tweeting about things they need or want you to do or projects they’re involved with or “please donate now.” Make sure you’re offering up help to others on a consistent basis and not asking for too much all of the time — and repeating it over and over again like a used car salesman is not winning you any brownie points. It’s better to give than receive.

Keep a balanced mix of work and personal tweets. If your stream includes more content about Charlie Sheen than things you’re passionate about, you may want to reevaluate how you’re being portrayed online. There is no magic formula, but remember that people want to see the real person behind the avatar, so it’s OK to talk about your family, your ambitions, or a great book you just finished reading. Keep your profile polished by also including links to trends in your industry or interesting news in general.

What other tips would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments section.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Birmingham, Alabama, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Birmingham, Alabama. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @DaleCarnegieALA.

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