Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reaching Out to Strangers on Social Media: There's a Right Way & a Wrong Way

This comes up as I did my forum yesterday. If you didn't get to go, you missed out. Seriously. Jagger was an awesome mod who totally delivered on the promise of educational but accessible (and then some). He made me laugh with the mic talk. I've wondered about such things myself with bar associations, especially City Bar's lack of a sound system considering Thug High had one & we really didn't have much in the way of nice stuff. If Thug High, who has far less money for operations than a NYC bar association, can have a sound system, why the hell doesn't that bar association? I'd really like to know the answer. I can't be the first person to notice such things or say something.

People kept complimenting me on the speakers & my friend Monroe got swarmed by folks afterward. I kid you not. Even my business partner, who attended, wanted to meet him & I made a point to introduce those two. He said he liked Monroe since he was a hustler & remembered me mentioning him before (remember, if I like you & you're on my radar screen you will be mentioned if XYZ thing I remember about you comes up in conversation). That guy will be coming to NYCLA again if I've got anything to do with it. Before I even invited him for this, I knew it would be stupid of me not to. Sometimes being a good leader & organizer means recognizing who's going to deliver the image you're working on + mesh well with your group.

I'm trying to get the "I'm stick of stuffy" demographic since I feel like they've been ignored. I consider myself one of them & God knows I've felt ignored. Plus, what do you expect from the woman who's playing a prostitute in this year's off year show for City Bar?

Even if you're not doing nudity or sex scenes, it takes confidence & a sense of self to portray such a role. I probably couldn't have done it if it was given to me in high school, even though no one there would have believed it since I'm sure most of those guys would find it hard to believe that any guy in his right mind would pay money to sleep with me.

I have had so many compliments from this event from both creatives and lawyers/law students; people thanked me for doing it, thanked my speakers & my moderator (whom I made sure to thank since they totally deserve it & know their stuff). I also think when someone does something nice for you & helps you, you should sincerely thank them for it--at least, this is an American entertainment industry ethic. I even read an article recently on the power of public praise in the workplace & how it raised morale as well as productivity. Some bosses could use that lesson.

My husband also made me proud by networking on his own and doing targeted introductions to my business partner. Meanwhile, as the event organizer, I had to mingle and network amongst my attendees. Don't organize an event if you can't handle this. Funny that I went to an event on Thursday & another industry contact I know told me I was working the room. "Damn," I thought "Here I am, the quiet chick & I'm able to work a room. Okay, then."

As a result of that & doing last night's event, I've gotten lots of cards and met people. I have a TON of follow up to do to say the least.

Then, I've had people send me social media connection requests, particularly on Facebook. Some people use Facebook like I & others use LinkedIn.

Most of the people reaching out have been creatives or I saw they went to my forum so when I got those requests, I was like "Okay, I'll approve it. I don't think this person will try censoring me or telling me what to do." Could you imagine it? I'd handle that quickly, rest assured.

But there are always those people who send you a friend request, have no direct connections to your immediate contacts & have no information on their profiles. You're like "Who the hell are YOU and why are you so anxious to friend ME?"

It pissed me off when it happened on MySpace & it still pisses me off today.

Here's what to do & what not to do if you're reaching out to an industry person you don't know:

1. Tell the person WHY they should friend you. Often, sending a message is best for this (even if it goes to the Other mailbox) but having information on your profile available for the person's perusal or being a mutual contact can help. It does for me, at least. Show me some commonality.

One of my industry friends also agreed that sending a message when trying to friend a stranger is basic etiquette. This is the same thing for LinkedIn connection requests. I select contacts carefully so you won't get a request from me unless I saw something on your profile that interested me like a job, mutual interests, a general ethic, etc. I also do targeted networking & if I think you're going someplace or are where I'm heading, you're going to be someone I wish to talk to. You may end up becoming one of my few trusted contacts as things are moving for me.

At least the good news is I've been getting contacts lately who have their own success so maybe I won't have that whole green eyed monster problem.

2. If you haven't done this & I ask you WHY you want to friend me (which I will do if I can't find any information to support your request like mutual friends, going to my event, etc.), do NOT get all pissy about my asking.

First off, I'm an attorney. Even with entertainment attorneys, who are some of the most accessible and nicest people you will meet in the legal community, you aren't going to get sunshine and roses if an attorney doesn't know you. We attorneys are not in a popularity contest & it benefits you to respect us vs. wanting to have our babies, kill for us or be our best friends. You have to prove yourself to attorneys; as I've said a million times, you can't be an asshole to us.

Attorney may be one of the few occupations where you can get away with being an asshole to others (though maybe judge is better since attorneys can't get away with being assholes to judges). A good attorney is not some doormat throwing people under the bus to impress someone who may very well be trying to exploit them, their contacts or their clients.

Second, I'm a film executive. That's another occupation where you can get away with being an asshole, at least selectively. We are bombarded with people asking for things. It's like wearing a big sign that says "Ask me for favors." You don't even need the sign; people just do it anyway. The higher you are, the more common it is.

There is a finesse and a process to building rapport. Any film exec has every right to be suspicious of strangers who aren't doing the same thing or aren't at their level. Your job, stranger, is to show me you aren't just another asshole asking for a special favor.

Third, my public profile has increased. I'm sure to see more long lost relatives & random others popping out of the woodwork. Having a public profile means you have to be guarded and selective with who you talk to & what information you give. Again, stranger you are the one who has to prove yourself.

3. Don't be an idiot. We have lawyer jokes for a reason. Lawyers didn't get their rep for nothing, as I stated above. Me not being a stereotypical attorney asshole doesn't = embracing total strangers with 100% open arms with no questions on who they are, why they care to see all my personal updates/rants/pics/etc. Creeps & stalkers exist, especially for people in the entertainment industry. If you work in it professionally, you will encounter it sooner or later. It's probably a sign you've made it if you're getting this hassle. Caution saves us time & heartache. Professionals understand this. Not understanding it tells me you aren't a professional or you're extremely naive & something bad will eventually happen b/c you likely give that open arms treatment to strangers.

So, to recap lawyers aren't campaigning for Miss America & the good ones care more about your respect than if you like them as people. What good is someone who likes you as a person but stomps on you, subverts your authority, talks to other attorneys behind your back & excludes you from important conversations with them, etc.? Or worse, that person is breaking every law under the sun but likes you b/c you didn't do anything about it? That doesn't fly in law land; it's a fast track to getting disbarred.

I had someone do this with a friend request. It's like "Did you bother researching me? Did you read this blog? Did you ask around?" Come on, I'm the enforcer! I've also had a lot of haters in life.

Trying to get people to like you is a losing battle since I tried that early in life & failed miserably. When I stopped doing that in 8th grade, I had real friends who had my back & eventually got respect from others since I didn't tolerate anyone trying to demean me. That was worth so much more than the fake friendships I had. Eventually, I let go of all those fake friendships & decided that being in my life and getting my time was a privilege, not something I had to beg or grovel to anyone for.

Seriously, even if you aren't working in the entertainment industry or an attorney it's still a good idea not to go around begging others for approval in life & just be your own person who says "Here I am. Take it or leave it." It's been said a trillion times but it's still true: if you don't look after yourself or respect yourself, no one else is going to.

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