Life would be so much easier if we were back in the Emily Post days of etiquette where the rules were carefully laid out in black and white. You could decide not to follow the rules (that's why God gave us freewill, after all - so we could opt out of putting our napkins in our laps), but there's no denying that the rules exist.
That's not the case anymore. All you have to do is go grocery shopping to figure that out. People block aisles, cut in front of you without saying, "Excuse me," and sometimes bring their non-registered-therapy dogs for a walk through the produce section.
Can you tell I've just gotten home from the store?
Anyway, the rules have gotten blurry and I feel like in the social media world...the rules were never there to begin with. I will admit that I'm on the opposite end of the many ballsy people scattered around social media - when it comes to publicizing myself I'm almost too quiet. I don't ask for anything. I've had people tell me that I don't publicize the fact that I've written a book enough or talk about the things I've done; when someone compliments me in front of people, I painfully shy away from the praise. And there's a very good reason for that.
Because I don't want to be one of those people on social media that I hate.
So, here are my thoughts on how to avoid becoming the person on social media we all want to unfollow:
No One Owes You Anything
There is a very good chance that the person with a million followers you're hoping will promote you or your business was once in your shoes, hoping someone else would promote them. And there's a good chance that someone did. But that's not a given.
Leaders in your industry don't owe you anything, so it's best to approach them that way. Be dead-ass grateful if you email them and ask if you can post a guest blog and they say yes - like fall all over yourself saying thank you. It's a HUGE favor for someone to take their time to promote what you're doing. Treat it that way.
Make Sure You're A Good Fit
Pay attention to what they're posting! If you don't see any other guest blogs there, assume it's their blog and they don't post other pieces. If it looks like they do Q&As or post guest blogs, contact them from the humblest place in your heart and ask if you can participate. And this leads me to the next one...
Do NOT Try To Negotiate
Please don't contact someone and tell them, "If you post my piece, I'll promote yours" unless your audience is bigger than their's. In other words, if I have 100,000 people following me and you have 200...that doesn't help me. You're better off contacting the person from a humble, grateful place rather than a cocky "This is what I can do for you"...when you're really not doing anything for me. It's a real turn-off.
Don't Try To Rope Me In Without My Permission
I once had someone on Facebook who would write blogs and then tag me (as well as many other community leaders) in her posts so that it would then show up in my newsfeed. If you want to get the attention of someone who has influence, contact them privately about promoting you. Don't do it publicly. After this happened a few times, I unfollowed and blocked the person. Surely I'm not the only one.
If it sounds like what I'm suggesting is a lot of groveling, don't kid yourself - it is. Meaningful digital networking has a value that money cannot buy, which means you need to do it right. If you go about it from the beginning like the world owes you something, you will get NOWHERE fast.
But, done correctly, you'll soon be the one people are contacting to see if you'll promote their work and their ideas. At that point, you'll begin to understand that it takes a lot of time and effort to do it and have even more gratitude for the people who chose to help you.