The room is large. You’re amazed at just how many people have decided to attend this event. As you look around, you see that many people appear to be enjoying themselves, mixing freely with others. But yes, there are clearly some who appear lost in the crowd. That’s logical; the sheer number of people is a bit intimidating. After all, you are at this networking event with thousands, if not millions, of people from all over the world, and you want to make the most of it. You’ve just written a book. It was hard work, and you want to get the word out; the world is waiting.
You decide to start from the front of the room and work your way back. Without hesitation, you walk up to a guy and say hello. When he freely returns the greeting, you say, “Yes! It’s finally here! The paperback edition of my new novel! I hope you will consider buying it. I would also appreciate it if you read and review it on Amazon.”
You don’t notice that he looks at you strangely, because you’ve already moved on to the next person. Once again, your hello is returned. And you say, “I’ve just written a book. Please visit my website and download my free short story.”
He looks at you as if to say, “Are you effing kidding me?” but you’ve already moved on to the third person. She actually says hello to you first, so that must mean she’s really interested in your work. Despite the fact that she’s connected with 15,237 other people in the room, you are certain that your accomplishments are the only ones that will matter. You never even consider that she may have written a book (or several), recorded a CD (or several), or perhaps is a talented artist, teacher, speaker, entrepreneur, doctor, photographer, or animal welfare advocate. Why should you care about her? Hell! You’ve just written a book!
Sidling up to her, you say, “Please like my Facebook page, read and review my new book, and don’t forget to pass this message on to all of your friends. Oh, and by the way, why not check out what I’m doing on Instagram?”
(breaks from sarcasm)
Okay, so the scene I’ve just described should sound a bit silly (a lot silly), because most of us (I hope!) would not be quite this bold, thoughtless, or narcissistic at a live networking event. However, this is the way a whole lot of people behave every single day by sending self-serving Auto DMs (direct messages) on Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter since 2009, and I have never, not once, shown any interest in a person because he/she sent me an Auto DM. Why would I be interested in the work of another person who thinks I exist only to support his/her work and appears oblivious to who I am and what I do.
Depending on my mood, I will ignore the DM or unfollow the person. Once in a while I’ve sent back sarcastic responses, but these days I try to resist that temptation.
I’ve discussed the Auto DM habit with many of my fellow authors, and I’ve yet to have someone tell me, “Yes, I love being spammed and having a stranger tell me what I can do for him.”
In closing, let’s go back to the live networking event. In most cases, people strike up conversations with one another, ask about the other person, and, if it fits, exchange information. When a respectful two-way connection is made, it may lead to a casual business relationship, a working business relationship, or perhaps a friendship.
Some of you who send Auto DMs may say, “But I do care about the other person!” And to that I say, “Perception is everything. If you behave like a narcissist, I’m going to see you that way.” Other people might tell me that Auto DMs do work with some people. I’m sure they do, but do you have any idea how many people you are turning off who might be interested in your work if approached respectfully? How many potential business relationships you are nipping in the bud? Do you truly want to be perceived as being all about yourself? Is it worth it?
Remember: Even though you’re sending an electronic message, this is the real world.
What are your experiences with Auto DMs?
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