Breaking the Ice Online: How to Connect on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

“How do you break the ice online–on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter?”

I asked that question on LinkedIn recently and share the responses below.  Add your tips in the comment area!

The answers I’ve received so far generally involve 3 ways of making a connection:

      1. What’s in common?  Mention what you have in common (an interest, a person, work) Do research if necessary.
      2. Compliment. Give a sincere compliment about something (website, blog, article, etc.)
      3. Be direct. Say what you want or what you have to offer.

Vitalia Bryn-Pundyk: Common Connections and “Phrases of Flattery”

“Here is what I do when I connect virtually:

When I am on someone’s profile, I look for who else they may be connected with to see if there is someone else I know that we have in common. If there is someone I spot that we have in common and I have not yet connected with them, I just simply remind them how I know them and ask to connect with them. This really helps to expand my networking circle.

If it’s someone I don’t know but would like to get to know, I give them an honest reason why. I comment on what it is about them that I respect, like, or admire. I like to call this ‘Phrases of Flattery”. This flattery must be honest–(anyone can spot a phony miles away). I find that most of the time when you come across genuine in your compliments and show a sincere interest in others, the other individual will respond in kind.”

Ed Estlow: Ditto!

“I simply tell them how I know of them (through whom, or their work in the public arena, etc.), offer a true and heartfelt compliment on their work (only if it really is true), and express a desire to “keep in touch here on LinkedIn/FB/T.

I’ve reached out to several people on both FB and LI that way and so far it’s worked well. I don’t do Twitter much, but then you can follow people there without their active permission.”

Gina Abudi: Find a Common Interest
“I try to find a connection between us – maybe an interest, group we both belong to, an article they wrote that I read, a presentation of theirs I attended, etc. – and use that to break the ice and ask to connect to talk further.”

Chuck Carstensen: Ditto on Finding Something in Common

“I connect based on what we have in common. If I don’t know the person, I connect based on who we know, what we do or common interests we have.”

Lisa Burnside: Depends on the Situation and Do Research!

“That really depends on the situation. However, assuming it is not someone you have met face-to-face nor someone you have been introduced to by someone in common – I would find out what we do have in common and use it to break the ice. Also, I don’t play games and appreciate those that don’t either. So, if there is something I feel I can do for them or something they can do for me, I come right out and state it. Always putting in a compliments about something, picture, website, blog, etc. You should always research those you don’t know before just connecting.”

Trevor Kohlhepp: Touch Base

‘I personally find it best to just touch base with each new contact that I become “friends” with, regardless of the network we found each other on. I often do this with a simple thank you and looking forward to networking message. (Example: “Thank you for the connection Diane, I am looking forward to networking with you and seeing what opportunities come from it!”)

I find this approach to break the ice letting the new contact know that 1, I am a real persona and 2, I am open and available to network with. I often find that if I don’t make this initial message I never hear from the new contact and never have the opportunity to network with them.”

Joe Roberts: Twitter is Easiest

“Twitter is the easiest of the three to “break the ice,” due to the built-in brevity and the “open conversation” nature of the service. I have found that simply responding to a question posed by the potential follower, or re-tweeting and commenting on something they have tweeted, is a good first step at putting yourself on his/her radar screen and building rapport.

It is easy to make yourself both visible and useful to those with whom you want to connect on Twitter, so I’d suggest starting there if that is one of your options.”

Joanne Funch:  Be Direct

“How I break the ice is by being pretty direct.  I tell people exactly why I have sought them out whether it be for their expertise, learn more about them or their business or as a potential client I’d like to do business with.  I believe most professional people respect and honest, straight forward question.”

Henri Vanroelen: Ditto on the No-Frills Approach

“Just explain why you are contacting them. In the on-line world there’s no need to chit-chat in the first contact.”

Tom Butz: Ask Questions and Make Comments

“Questions / comments strike people of different groups in unique ways – know the audience you are seeking and assume no one else is viewing (can’t worry about other’s reactions)

Many, many see but don’t respond – assume there is a silent impact

I find Facebook the most interactive in terms of reaction to postings – Twitter is more like a multi-dimensional news feed and LinkedIn is less reactive

Speak of that which invokes huge passion in you, and it will have a greater chance of impacting others.

Be vulnerable and honest in your communication.”


Embracing a Shadow–Technology-enabled Communication

An online relationship with Robert never would have worked. He didn’t email, text, Twitter or update a Facebook status. When we met in 1993, people didn’t have those modes of communication available anyway. Well, a few people had email, but I didn’t use email until 1997!

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