I think back to the days when the freaks took to the internet to find love.  Come on… That’s what you thought too, right? That was, until I began to run a social media driven business.  I really didn’t understand how anyone could meet someone on the internet and call that a relationship.

Years later, I’ve built some amazing circles of friends that started on the internet.  I was already married before the internet truly became the playground, club, and boardroom.  So finding love was never on my agenda, but building meaningful relationships was! And. I. Did.

It’s possible.  Nonetheless, just like IRL (in real life), you should have some ground rules.  There are definitely Dos and Don’ts. If you own any type of business, social media is the Hyperloop vs. Highway to Heaven Success. (Sorry, I started to hum the song in my head.  Thought you should know that.) At the speed of digital, it is important to respect the dangers of the velocity of social media and how it can impact your business or any relationship, for better or for worse.

What are the Don’ts?

  • Don’t go on the internet looking for meaningful anything, especially in regards to business and love.  That doesn’t mean you won’t find it.  Connections.  That’s what you should be looking for.  Like in real life, a relationship is built (or not) following a connection.  Making any connection with the immediate expectation of it being a meaningful relationship will weaken your instincts and cause poor judgment.
  • Don’t tell everyone your entire life story. The world doesn’t need to know everything about you.  More importantly, you don’t want the world to know everything about you! People forget that once it’s out there – it’s out there! You can’t undo what you put on the internet, even if you delete it.  That’s done.  There’s no rewind and no time-out.  So, whatever you share with someone on a digital platform, be sure that you are willing to endure the consequences of that private conversation becoming public.
  • Don’t expect something in return for your offer to connect.  Two of the biggest mistakes people make in the digital world is taking things too personally and expecting reciprocation.  It’s kind of like handing someone a present, and saying – “Didn’t you get me a present?!” Don’t do that. I’ll admit, I’ve done that in social media.  I found it quite embarrassing to look back on once I reached a certain digital maturity.

What are the Dos?

  • Do pursue and enjoy many connections on the internet.  When I was a child, I learned a song in church that stuck with me forever.  The lyrics apply perfectly here:  “Make new friends, but keep the old.  Some are silver and the others gold.”  Broad social interaction is an intellectually healthy practice.  It creates increased awareness of the world we live in, opens our minds to new ideas, and makes it possible for some connections to turn into meaningful relationships we would have otherwise not developed. 
  • Do share your personality and let people get to know the real you. Telling everyone that your mother-in-law is a hag isn’t productive. Share personal stories that reflect your values, humor, and passions without disclosing to the world, details that should be reserved for people you develop meaningful relationships with.
  • Do nurture the connections you’d like to turn into meaningful relationships. It’s okay to aspire to make a deeper connection with someone.  Just keep in mind that it might not happen.  It’s not personal.  It’s life. If your only purpose in connecting is to get what you want, you may find yourself regularly disappointed.

The success of my business depends 90% on connections and meaningful relationships.  No matter how hard or smart I work, there is no chance of my business thriving, without connecting with others.  Most of the contributors on this site are people I connected with on social media.  Those connections developed into meaningful relationships and here they are.  I couldn’t be more grateful.

By:  Alicia Gonzalez

Photo credit: Slodive