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February 28, 2013

9 Tips for Making Online Friends

Kittens with text: 9 Tips for Making Online Friends

In my last post, I talked about the online opportunities for writers, including fully interactive writing conferences. So now is a good time to rerun this post about about how to reach out to other writers online and make friends. I’ve updated this post with notes about what I currently find difficult.

Thanks to Laurie London, I found a great list of nine characteristics of likeable people. Many writers are introverts and making friends can be difficult under the best circumstances. So let’s take a look at how the characteristics listed in the article can translate to making online friends in the writing community, whether through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or forums.

9 Characteristics of Likeable People

1. Being kind and considerate of others

In an online community, this means (most importantly) no spamming.  Don’t talk only about yourself. In Twitter, it’s fine to jump into conversations (imagine a big party where everyone mingles), but don’t try to change the focus onto you. In Facebook or blog comments, don’t post just to point them to your website. When someone re-tweets something of yours, thank them!
Note: I try to thank people for re-tweets, but due to volume, I fear I now miss more than I catch. Sorry! I do try.

2. Having a good sense of humor, liking to laugh, and having a ready smile

Posts or tweets that are all-business-all-the-time are boring and not social.  Yes, branding is important, but a community is about interaction.  Share the funny, absurd, or otherwise entertaining stuff too.

3. Being warm, friendly and outgoing

As much as your time allows, reply to those who reach out to you and follow those who follow you (unless they’re spammers). TwitterKarma will compare those who are following you with those you’re following. Did you miss following someone? Did the Twitter unfollow bug erase some people from your follow list?
Note: Due to volume, I know I miss many new followers, but it’s not personal. Really! *smile* Feel free to send a tweet with: Hi! I’m following you now. It’s nice to meet you. I’ll see your tweet and follow back.

4. Being authentic and unpretentious

Show your personality (to a point—just as much as in any social situation, watch out for hot-button issues, political, etc.). A running joke among the writing community on Twitter is mocking the supposed glamorous life of an author by sharing the reality, cleaning toilets and cat boxes and all.

5. Being vivacious, perky and engaged in life

While it’s okay to have a bad day sometimes and look for support, no one wants to hear whining all the time. People will react better (and be more supportive) if you’re able to find a silver lining. Sometimes the more ridiculous, the better, along the lines of: Got caught in the rain today with no umbrella. On the plus side, I’ve been ogled more today than I have in years.

6. Having interests

Despite what some people think, Twitter isn’t about the mundane. Yes, people will sometimes share what they ate or what they’re doing this very minute, but usually because they’re making a joke out of it. In other words, be interesting. Kristen Lamb’s blog and books explain more about how to put this concept into action.

7. Showing interest in others

Reply to others if you have something worthwhile to add, even when you’re not originally part of the conversation. Retweet things you find interesting. Like or comment on others’ blogs and Facebook statuses and links. These are all ways to interact and make sure that it’s not just about you.

8. Being relaxed and easygoing

Watch out for hypersensitivity. Things can easily be misunderstood in the written form. Add in the 140 character limit of Twitter, and whoo boy, is there potential for misunderstanding. Try to give others the benefit of the doubt, or just decide to not get offended.

9. Being easy to talk to and nonjudgmental

Unless it’s something you’re willing to lose potential readers over, try not to get embroiled in real controversy (where there’s definitely two or more sides to the issue). No matter where you are on the political fence, remember that half of your potential readers might be on the other half. A political rant might not be the best idea unless that’s part of your brand.

What behaviors make people seem friendly or unfriendly online? Do you have more tips or examples? Which of these tips have worked the best for you? What’s the hardest part of reaching out to others? What’s the easiest?

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Janet Boyer

This is a GREAT post, Jami! I think what’s been challenging to me, especially in the past, is my reputation as a tough reviewer. When I became a published author, myself, authors who held grudges decided to take it out on me either via harassment, actual boycotting of my work, or leaving 1-star reviews of my books. :oP I also tend to be blunt, which is a part of my platform (“authenticity and in-your-face Self Help”).

As I move into fiction writing, and actual socializing with other writers, I’ve realized I’ve had to tone down my personality/mouth because so many are quick to take offense or read into things. Even as a child, I received yearly “Needs Improvement” notices in the “Works Well With Others” department. LOL!

I think I’m finally finding a happy medium between my natural outrageousness and sensitiviy towards how others “may” take a comment. I’ve always encouraged my fellow creatives, though, and that will never change. I love it when people take creative risks!

Thanks for being such a blessing to your fellow writers, Jami. :o)

Melinda S. Collins

Hi Jami!

Thank you for sharing this amazing tips again. 🙂 I’d just commented on Kristen’s blog that there were 2 posts I read this morning that resonated so deeply with me, and yours was one of them (the other was hers, of course 🙂 ).

I think the hardest part about reaching out to others, especially on Twitter, is that debilitating fear that you have nothing to worthy to share, nothing that contributes or is of interest to others. I struggled with this for the longest time, and I’m getting better at it. And I’m sure there are others out there like that.

When it comes to social media, I feel like an insecure introvert, and when in person, I’m a total confident extrovert. A little backwards, huh? LOL! But WANACon this past weekend has helped me through that. I’m printing these tips, posting them in my office, gonna go with the flow, be myself and build those connections. 🙂

Thanks again for the great post, Jami! 😀

Carradee

Something else to bear in mind: You can’t please everyone. No matter what, you’ll tick someone off. If you can accept that and be willing to bow out of a situation, it helps. A lot.

Renee Schuls-Jacobson

You have moved beyond likable, Jami. You are a dear. You always seem to put others first. And for that, you are loved. 🙂 Thank you for coming to my rescue when I was feeling down and out. I’m trying to breathe through things. Thank you a million times for all you do to make cyberspace a better place.

Serena
Serena

About controversial issues, it’s a problem when you aren’t even aware that a certain issue is controversial. One time I posted something on Facebook that demeaned plastic surgery because I thought that people were just not respecting themselves. I posted that because I thought about 90% of the population also held that belief and that my opinion was absolutely unoriginal and “the norm”. However, a friend was a little offended and asked me what about burn victims? That was quite embarrassing because it was then I realized that the % that held my opinion was not 90! I only thought it was such a high percentage of the population because my closest friends (my own social circle) all believed that plastic surgery was a bad and self-disrespecting thing. (I apologized to my friend later ^_^”—AND learned to use the privacy settings on FB so that only my close friends who agree with me can see it.) In general, being sensitive is good, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Being sensitive is a skill that needs to be learned and improved over time, I’d say. Very often I feel that other people are way ahead of me in their social skills, and I would complain, “Oh, why are social skills so hard???” But that’s just my whining. XD Yet I know I’m improving though, so that’s an encouragement. The avoid being narcissistic issue: Yes, this was one of my biggest lessons, lol, but I believe I’m getting better at…  — Read More »

Rinelle Grey

Some really down to earth advice. I’m new to the twitter scene, and semi-new to facebook, so this sort of advice is just what I need!

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[…] Gold: 9 Tips for Making Online Friends. Excerpt: “Thanks to Laurie London, I found a great list of nine characteristics of likeable […]

Lisa Gail Green

So important to remember! I still get tons of followers who are only about “buy my book!” Which is fine to mention, but can’t be all you tweet about.

Misha

When it comes to social networking, the best way to seem friendly and awesome is to get involved. Help people spread the word about their book release. Bonus points if you do it without being asked.

Volunteer for as much you can afford to get involved in.

But ALWAYS stay true to promises. And if you REALLY can’t, let the person know.

Misha

Although the above is for social networking in general as supposed to only twitter.

E.B.Pike

Awesome tips, Jami. You’re the social media guru! 🙂

Jeremy Duley

Thanks to this post I can finally cancel my adult friend finder account….just kidding, I’ve already paid for the next 3 years.

Great post as usual Jami! You brought up Kristen’s books, they’ve helped me a lot. It doesn’t take a ton of time to be social, it’s amazing how just a little bit each day can take you.

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[…] There’s been a lot of discussion on how and even if authors should use social media to promote their books and themselves. Kristen Jett explores the question: does blogging help or hurt your career? Maureen Johnson (recently named The Queen of Teen in the UK), talks about how to do social media right, while Jami Gold backs her up by explaining how to make friends online. […]

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[…] 9 Tips For Making Online Friends by Jami Gold […]

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