Recently I have started reading Putting the Public Back in Public Relations by Brian Solis and Dierdre Breakenridge. Upon doing so I became inspired to write this post about the importance of making personal contacts and developing relationships within the PR field.
As a self proclaimed “Social Media Freak,” my peers often ask me questions regarding the proper etiquette for social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Many of them have trouble getting started, finding people to follow and discovering the “right” things to post, tweet, update their status about, etc. (you get the drift).
My best advice for the people who ask me this question would be simply to make personal connections. Of course I have Twitter followers and Facebook friends I am not necessarily “close” with but many of them have careers or lifestyles I am interested in. In order to participate in the conversations with these people however, it’s important to create personal connections with them.
One of the biggest issues I come across with those starting an account on a social media site is that they expect the conversation to come to them. In reality it is the contrary. YOU must seek out the conversation and take personal interests into the lives of those you want to contact. Ask specific questions, follow their blogs and COMMENT on them, find out what motivates them, etc. Without doing your research you will find it incredibly hard to not only start a conversation but keep up your end of it.
Establishing and maintaining personal connections is something many young and old professionals forget to do today. “The moral of the story is to be the person you want to reach, regardless of the technology you use to get there.” When Breakenridge and Solis wrote this on page 123 of their most recent book, they were speaking in terms of making personal connections with journalists in regards to news releases. I decided to take their words a step further (which I know they will also do in ladder chapters), and encourage/remind not only my peers but everyone in the industry about the power of personal contacts.
Neither side of a cyclical relationship can sit back and wait for others to contact them and build the entire relationship. It is a two-way street which needs to be treated with respect on all ends. This being said, you must not only ask questions of those you want to engage in conversation with, you must answer questions and provide input. Doing so will open a plethora of avenues for the conversation to venture down, not to mention develop trust and credibility among those involved. Touch on issues that spark your interest because someone else is bound to be interested in some of the same topics.
Overall, ENGAGE! Don’t sit around while the conversation is happening, jump in and participate. Create your own conversations and comment on those that are already happening. Get personal with individual people no matter how you are contacting them and realize that they want to get personal with you. When all is said and done, you will walk away with some great relationships and open many doors that you never though existed!