Talking to a stranger online can be daunting, if not super scary or awkward. Yet many of us need to do it and take that step in order to network or expand our businesses to the next level.
So the question becomes: How do I strike up a conversation, online with someone I don’t know?
How do I message someone from a Facebook group I’m in, without coming off as random or creepy?
I realize that things can get touchy online when it comes to boundaries and stranger danger, but it can be easier to navigate when you are open and you don’t take things like Facebook so seriously.
First and foremost, talking to people online can be as simple as talking to someone you meet at a grocery store or at an in-person networking event.
You approach them (or message them in this case) and ask them a question or give them a compliment or comment on something they posted in the group that you’re in or on their Facebook wall.
Facebook has settings where you cannot message every single person so some people may even have this feature disabled. If they don’t want random people messaging them they can disable this feature completely.
If it is enabled to receive messages from people, then message them if you feel like you can provide value to them or get value from them in some way.
Sometimes giving value to them can mean agreeing with them on something they said or posted. It can also mean giving them some information or a resource on something they asked for help with.
Getting value can be great and reaching out will be a total win because the goal is that you’ll leave the conversation with something great. Maybe they have a link or a resource or an online shop to something that you desperately need. Maybe they know someone who can help you do the one thing you’ve been looking for someone to do or help you with.
Communicating online is just as important as it is in person and it can totally boost your network and your business for the better.
All it usually takes is reaching out and being open to hearing what they have to say back.
Often times, having a common ground is the best and easiest place to start to get to know someone and feel like it isn’t as random or strange to message them.
One thing that helps me a lot is to comment on something that they’ve posted and give them a heads up that I will be PM’ing them to talk further.
Giving someone the heads up is like gently knocking on their door. It tells them that you want to continue the conversation and gives them the opportunity to say HECK YEAH or to decline. Most people are open to this if you’ve given them a heads up and the conversation makes sense to continue further on Messenger.
If you are communicating with someone on LinkedIn, messaging someone can be HUGE. It could mean a future interview or meeting and it could mean big things for your business or career.
Most people on LinkedIn expect messages about their industry or roles that come up as available in their companies and are usually more than willing to help and talk more about anything that has been posted or seems appropriate to expand on.
It all starts with the initial message though. That is where the magic begins and that is where the conversation can start. Most people are not going to hit you up and know what you want when you want it- you have to do the leg work and figure it out on your own.
The cool thing is that the internet sets you up to win with personalized profiles and work histories so that you can get to know someone before you even hit the Message button.
The more you know about someone the easier the conversation tends to be and the better able you can direct it towards your motives or goals. If I know that you are a PhD and love working in xyz industry, it helps a lot more than only knowing you worked at abc company.
Knowledge is power and I want you to use the knowledge and information that is readily available online all of the time and make it work in your favor when reaching out to folks.
Once you have the information, let the conversation flow and be honest and upfront with what you are in need of. Maybe you are in need of a recommendation or an opinion on something. Maybe you want to help them do or get something. Use your words and be kind.
And let the networking online begin!