CNN just unleashed its list of “The 12 most annoying types of Facebookers.” Many of the listed annoyers are also rampant in the legal social networking world, such as “The Friend-Padder” “The Lurker” “The Self-Promoter.”
The hallmark of an annoying social networker is that he does not talk with you, but at you. He does not care about who you are or what you have to say because you exist for his benefit (ie. to increase his follower, friend, and visit counts.) This why the annoying networker constantly adds people on Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn that he has no interest in, and that he will never interact with.
The annoying networker uses his online friends, visitors, and followers as a way to appear “connected” when he is anything but. This type of spam-networking, or non-networking, is counterproductive because your 1,000 LinkedIn connections are rendered moot by a single connection who says “I don't really know him. He just randomly added me.”
Law students, especially unemployed law students, can quickly fall into this trap and turn off peers, lawyers, and recruiters.
Here are five ways to avoid being that guy or girl.
- Think before you add: Do you really care what this person has to say or are you just adding the person to increase your audience? On LinkedIn, don’t add anyone that you would not be comfortable with a recruiter contacting.
- Create, don’t aggregate: It's okay to occasionally link to something that you find interesting. But the majority of your tweets and blog posts should not be links or summaries of other people’s content. Contribute something original. Don’t clog our readers and feeds with content we already saw on law.com or Bitter Lawyer unless you're adding commentary or some other useful content.
- Brag not, bore not: Unlike a personal blog, social networking sites require that you think about your audience. Before posting, consider if you would be interested in reading your post if it was authored by someone else. Would you really care to read that someone is in the library again or working on a brief?
This also applies to messaging. Don’t message your casual acquaintances and slip in comments about making law review or your recent A+ in torts. We will think you’re that guy. I promise.
- Prestigious Eyes Test: AKA, avoid overshare. Before posting, ask yourself if you would be mortified if a recruiter or your law school’s dean saw your post, picture, or tweet. Also think about the impression you are giving your peers: I know of a student who did not get onto the law review editorial board soley because he kept tweeting about how miserable his first year on law review was.
- Engage: the whole point of networking is to engage other people, or “add value,” for others. This means writing meaningful replies to posts and tweets, and taking a genuine interest in what others have to say. Remember, if you don’t really want to engage other people then you don’t really want to network.