Quit Trying to Control – It’s a Handshake

As I consult with business owners to help them them integrate social media strategies into their approach to building their business, one question continues to emerge. Aren’t I bothering people online that I don’t even know when I use tools like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook? And OMG, what if people start to stalk me. Good grief! Please get over that now!

Hey, let me ask you a few questions.

  • If I met you at a networking event and then subsequently followed up with you over email or the phone – do you consider that stalking or intrusive?
  • Are you afraid to call more than once or twice for fear that you’ll be perceived as too aggressive?
  • Is this the same reason you think you should only send your newsletter out once a quarter?

If you said yes to any of these questions then I’d like to suggest you give up as an entrepreneur right now. There. I said it. How can you possibly build relationships that lead to people buying your products or services if this is your mindset? The answer is…you can’t.

And why in the world are so many of you worried about the proverbial stalker coming after you? If you think that someone can’t find you in the local white pages, you are just fooling yourself. What I love about the online world is that if someone does start bugging you – guess what? You can block them. Easy as pie.

Here’s the deal…when you go online – similar to when you go to a networking function (if you do it right that is) – you are looking for commonality.

Take Twitter as an example. If you have signed up to use Twitter and don’t know how to get started, you can simply search for people who have similar interests to yours. For example, I love great wine, so I might search out other wine lovers to follow and in turn might want them to follow me. Gary Vaynerchuk is just such a person. You can check him out on tv.winelibrary.com

As you start following people with similar interests, join in the conversations taking place, you begin to build a relationship with them. In other words, the first step is to say “hello” – to shake hands. This is no different than meeting someone at a networking event and realizing that both of you have an affinity for fine dining and great wine.

People seem “scared” about who might follow them. I say the more the merrier. There is also fear about sharing “too much personal” information, but the idea online just like off line is that you want to let people get to know you – that’s why it’s called social networking. If somebody goes overboard or gets on your nerves, cut them off!

As I said, I think Gary is a pretty hip guy in addition to knowing his wines, so I want to share a video of his from YouTube that speaks to this very topic. Pretty much says it all. Thanks Gary!



  1. says

    Great post! Save this one, Barb for our book. I will add one caveat. I have a client who is worried about “bothering” people. The reason she’s worried is someone in her industry overused email and drove everyone nuts. He sent daily tips about things people didn’t need or already knew. Everyone considers him a joke.

    He did a disservice not only to my client but to the medium as a whole. He began bugging people before he had a relationship with them. Again, the sleazy techniques in any medium fail. Unfortunately now my client is hesitant to send out things too often. She is slowly getting past this, but it will take time.

    As Gary said in the video, you ask people when you meet them in person if they want more information. It’s the polite way whether in person or online.

  2. Barbara Giamanco says

    Thanks Joan!

    It is certainly true that some people will always find ways to abuse and misuse tools. The individual you mentioned is probably the same one who shoves a business card into the unsuspecting face of every person they meet. Actually, I think I’ve met that guy in the vegetable section at Publix:). That being said, I caution people not let the obnoxiousness of a few unenlightened souls stop them from doing it the right way! Used correctly – social media tools are a way to learn from people all around the world, as well as share what you have to offer. As Guy Kawasaki says…the key to success is to share really good SHITake!

    What I would suggest to your client is that she shouldn’t hide, because some idiot in her profession did the wrong things. That’s not her! Here are a few of Barb’s tips:

    1. She can use snail mail to keep in touch instead of email.

    It is not unusual for me to pull an article from a magazine that I then send to a client and/or prospect with a handwritten note letting them know why I thought the information would be beneficial to them. Takes a little more time, but it’s personalized and people appreciate that you thought that much of them.

    2. Ask permission to send email.

    Your client can easily let her clients and/or prospects know that she likes to serve as a trusted adviser. For that reason, she watches for important information about the industry that she would like to be able to pass on when she feels it would benefit them. If they say no – that’s fine. Usually people are fine with it though, so long as you stick to the deal and only send relevant information.

    3. Use Constant Contact for her marketing communication.

    Using something like Constant Contact gives people an easy way to “opt out”, which is legally required by the CAN-SPAM act anyway. Even if someone has given their permission to receive your information, they might decide later on that they are overloaded and need to remove their name from your list. Constant Contact and email software like it provides that functionality.

    In my experience, people get ticked off when: they are sent email junk that is a sales pitch and/or about you and not relevant to them; they haven’t given their permission to receive what you are sending; OR they can’t easily get off your list. Done right, you can use social media to build relationships that lead to sales. Done wrong…well, you become joke fodder over 5pm cocktails.

    BTW…if people get tired of receiving junk email…you can mark it as junk in your email in-box and never give it a 2nd thought!

  3. says

    Recovering from any faux-pas (your own or someone else’s affecting your reputation/credibility) takes time. One of the quickest ways to recover is to set yourself apart and offer extremely good value or information to others without expecting anything in return. I’m not suggesting giving away the farm, but just enough so that people know where to return to for more.

  4. says


    Just now discovering your blog– it’s great! All valid points about networking. I find that once again, people are focusing on the technology and not the psychology of networking– it’s to make a connection with a human being. Even though I’ve networked successfully face-to-face, the new tech sometimes can be challenging. Thanks for a common sense approach.

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