Ideas—Not to Say “Rules”!—For Networking on Facebook

Thanks for coming back! Because, of course, I have more to say. Remember what I said on Wednesday: these tips don’t apply to you if you’re using Facebook just for fun, sending notes to friends and family, posting photos in preparation for your 20th high school reunion. These are hints for if you’re doing some networking and hoping to connect with people in the mixed media world.

Here are just a few things you might want to keep in mind as you hang out on Facebook~~

—Messages: I know that FB messaging has, for many people, replaced email. It’s quick, it’s easy, and you’re hanging out on Facebook anyway, so why not? You don’t have to look up someone’s email address, you don’t have to log into your mail program. You can just fire off a message or include us in a message you’re sending to a couple dozen of your closest friends asking them to vote for you in a contest and. . . .Please don’t. Sending a message on Facebook asking someone to “like” your page is like calling them on the phone and asking them to buy your daughter’s Girl Scout Cookies: it might be something they’d like to do, once they recognized the yummy goodness, but putting them on the spot isn’t the way to go about it. I have yet to talk to any editor who likes to receive FB messages about book or article ideas or pitches for work or ad buys or referrals. While online communication has made everything less formal and made everyone seem like old friends, there’s a time for a little formality, and contacting someone to suggest a book you’d really like to write or an article for which you think your shop would be perfect—that’s the time you might want to comb your hair and put on a pair of shoes, you know? If you’ve ever wondered why some of those messages went unanswered? Well. Since they’re not as businesslike as email, some of us leave them until way down at the end of Mail We Need to Answer. If you’re hoping to make a good impression, send a nice email, with your contact info and any relevant links, to our actual email address, not Facebook. With even—gasp!—a nice salutation: I love it when I get an email that begins, “Hi, Ricë!” It’s like when I used to get a hand-addressed envelope (remember those?) in the mailbox (the metal kind outdoors)–so exciting! Always happy!  Email addresses are made public for a reason: that’s the way people want to receive work-related mail. Websites and magazines all have contact info, and that’s the way to get noticed in a positive way. The way to think about this is to remember that sending a work-related message via Facebook is like button-holing your OB/GYN at a fancy cocktail party to ask about that annoying rash, or like showing up on your accountant’s doorstep with a box of files on a Sunday morning in June. Tacky, tacky. Sure to get you noticed, but not in a good way, OK?

—Uploading photos:  if you went to CHA or an art retreat or workshop and got a bunch of photos of everyone you saw, and some of those have Famous People looking wan or exhausted or wasted or with a forkful of pie going into their mouths, please. Be an adult and resist the urge to post those. You may think it’s hilarious, and others may enjoy seeing “a more human side” of people they usually see only in the role of teacher or editor, but for us? We’re there working, and this is what we do for a living. While we can’t control the photos that appear online, we’d like to think our students and the people we meet would want to help us look good. On a personal note, because there have been some truly atrocious photos of me looking completely stoned and with a sub-normal IQ posted to Facebook, I’ve really set my privacy controls in the stratosphere. You can tag me in a photo, but (theoretically) no one else can see it. Even *I* can’t see it–I get the notification and click the link, and it refuses to let me go there. At least in theory, it works. (If it’s not working, I really don’t want to know, because it will just make me rant.)

—Which brings us to tagging. “Tagging” on Facebook means tagging in the sense of labeling people who appear in a photo or video or note or whatever. So if you have a photo of John and Martha and Sally, and you tag them, you label the photo with their names. It does not mean “tagging” as in “here’s a photo I thought you’d like; you’re it”! But apparently that’s how huge numbers of people use the tagging feature, because I’ve been “tagged” in photos of people I’ve never seen and places I’ve never even heard of and events that have nothing to do with anything with which I have even the most basic familiarity. It’s gotten to the point that, when someone does it right, it’s a huge deal. This morning I was tagged in a post by the fabulous Melanie Testa. I went to check, and she’d written a post about the podcast I did with Christine and Tonia. I was very happy about this and left a nice comment. And everyone felt good all the way around. Points to Melanie!

Now, I know there are plenty of people out there saying, “But that’s just the way *you* do it; that’s not the way everyone else does it. So who are *you* to set the rules?” Ahh. I’m not setting the rules. Alas, I do not have that power. What I’m doing is suggesting, ever so gently, that there are people who have conversations about this, and that these are some of the things those people talk about. And if you’re hoping to make a favorable impression on those people, for whatever reason, well, then. Just a few hints you might want to keep in mind.


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2 Responses to Ideas—Not to Say “Rules”!—For Networking on Facebook

  1. Katie Holmes says:

    Good, good, GOOD tips. 🙂 Especially the photo “idea”. I’m not famous at ALL, and STILL hate it when someone puts a photo out there of me looking ridiculous. That’s supposed to be the BEAUTY of digital photographs…deleting the ones you DON’T like. Alas, sadly I haven’t figured out how to work that feature remotely, in order to deal with other people’s cameras. 🙂

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      When you figure out how to do that, you’re going to make a ton of people ecstatically happy. Me included. Let us know!