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?Pin It
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)
Ouch! Yes, that’s a tough situation to be in. I often just decide not to take offense at things, but sometimes that’s harder than others.
If it makes you feel any better, I’ve never thought you behaved inappropriately, so yay! for that. 😀 Thanks for the comment!
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! 😀
Aww, thank you! And yes, that’s a great point. I often reject 10 tweets a day as being too “stupid” or “inane.” LOL!
Humor is a good icebreaker for things like that. And really, after you’re on Twitter for a while, you realize that there will always be something more inane than your worst tweet. 😀 Thanks for the comment!
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.
Absolutely! I’m sure some people hate my style of blogging, tweeting, whatever. Fine. I’m not for them. I’d hurt myself if I tried to bend backward far enough to make everyone happy. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
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.
Aww, thanks! 🙂
*hugs* And thanks for the comment!
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 »
Hi Serena, Wow! A part of me thinks the friend of yours was looking for an excuse to be offended. I doubt most people would put “vanity” plastic surgery in the same category as “medical” plastic surgery, especially with the reference to self-respect. They chose to lump them together in their head, and then chose to be offended by it. They could have pointed out how your statement didn’t apply to burn victims in an informative, non-offended way. They chose not to go that route. That’s what I mean about how we can go through our social media life looking for reasons to be offended, or we can choose to not take offense. We can give people the benefit of the doubt. I find it sad when people focus on the negative so much that they can’t see past their offense enough to give the benefit of the doubt. Their offense might say more about them than anything about who they took offense to. That said, yes, it’s easy to have that echo chamber mentality and think that everyone agrees with us. I suspect that’s a big part of the reason behind some political or religious statements on social media. People don’t even think that there’s another half to the story because they’re wrapped up in their own ideas. We all do it–that’s human nature–but we can try to be more aware of other perspectives. If we open ourselves to others, we’ll find that social media is a fantastic way… — Read More »
Thanks for the italics fixing. ^^ Oh haha, I didn’t think of my friend deliberately looking to be offended. Maybe he was just trolling XD And yeah! There are some people who are negative about everything! (< I've learned to ignore these people now, though, haha. Well okay sometimes they do offer constructive criticisms, but more often than not, their critiques border on the ridiculous, and it becomes clear that they're just being difficult (even if they themselves don't realize that they're being so.) "We all do it–that’s human nature–but we can try to be more aware of other perspectives. If we open ourselves to others, we’ll find that social media is a fantastic way to connect with people way outside our usual circles, and that openness to other perspectives can be a good thing. " Yes! Making more friends from different social circles really broadens one's perspectives! It also helps debunk stereotypes. The more I grow up (I still feel like a kid!), the more I feel the sheer multitude of possible perspectives and interpretations of the same seemingly simple thing. Now I understand why my high school English teacher said that one of the most beautiful things about literature is that there can be multiple interpretations. 🙂 "As for your worry about talking only about yourself, don’t worry. 😉 There’s a difference between using your perspective to comment on how you related to this post and talking about yourself in a way that doesn’t relate to this post.… — Read More »
Eh, maybe he knew someone who had plastic surgery due to burn injuries and was thus overly sensitive. (See? I can’t help but give people the benefit of the doubt. LOL!) But yes, there are definitely people who are negative about everything. I try to keep my distance from those types. 🙂
Ooo, yes, “debunking stereotypes.” Social media has been great for making me feel like I can relate to people as people, rather than as stereotypes. That’s a neat bonus from social media. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
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!
I’m a Twitter addict, so let me know if you have any questions. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
[…] Gold: 9 Tips for Making Online Friends. Excerpt: “Thanks to Laurie London, I found a great list of nine characteristics of likeable […]
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.
Agreed! Buying a book that we don’t need is in many ways like asking a favor. Fiction isn’t like non-fiction in that “want vs. need” respect. So why would people want to buy our fiction book based off hearing about on Twitter? The chances of making our book sound better than all their other choices in a 140 character or less tweet is unlikely. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
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.
Although the above is for social networking in general as supposed to only twitter.
Yes, absolutely! 🙂
Thanks for sharing your tips! Yes, getting involved is a great way to make friends, and that can mean asking them how their writing is going, giving them ideas for questions you’d love to see answered on their blog, waving the virtual pom pons when they’re having a bad day, etc. Thanks for the comment!
Awesome tips, Jami. You’re the social media guru! 🙂
Aww, thanks! Social media success is really about thinking about others and not just ourselves. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
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.
LOL! Yes, I don’t do social media every day (I’m often more off-line on weekends), but I manage most days. Thanks for the comment!
[…] 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. […]
[…] 9 Tips For Making Online Friends by Jami Gold […]