My definition of friend has changed from spending so much time online. I have many friends that I've never met in person, and probably never will. Some friendships began with a five-minute Twitter exchange; others were sparked in person and then deepened online.
I've written before about how you want to engage your blog reader as if you're already friends. After all, even as a brand new reader, that person has still come from somewhere.
Maybe they found you on Google, "Hey, my friend Google the search engine thought I should meet you because I'm looking for…" If they've come via a link on social media, the introduction was even warmer and more meaningful.
But presuming too much intimacy can backfire – both on your blog and on the popular business networking site, LinkedIn.
How to get ignored on LinkedIn
"______ (name) has indicated you are a Friend and would like to add you to his/her professional network."
There's something about that phrase that bothers me, and I click the "Ignore" button when I receive these types of LinkedIn invitations. Unless the person includes a note about how we're "friends." (I used to write back and ask them, but it became too time consuming.)
On LinkedIn, if you can't honestly say that you know someone via work, school or another institution, you have two other options other than "Friend": (a) you can say you don't know the person or (b) you can click "Other" and include a note about why you'd like to connect.
The latter option is what I always choose. You have to enter the person's email address, but don't worry, it's not a test; it just helps LinkedIn deliver your message.
Remind your blog readers why they like you
Blog readers might also ignore your advances if you get too close, too soon. While you want to take a friendly approach, keep in mind that even if they've "met" you once or twice, they may not remember whether or not they liked you.
That's why it's so important to be consistent with your language and branding – it helps remind people who you are and what they liked about you. So you're not just presuming intimacy; you're backing it up.
Keep earning your friendships
Someone recently recommended that I change this phrase in the Wellness Blogs submission guidelines: "Pretend you're chatting with a good friend who came for your help and expertise." He said people wouldn't give the same level of advice to a friend. I disagreed, and kept the phrase as is. What do you think?
This reminded me of an important point, though. Keep making the effort to impress and deliver value to your blog readers. Don't skimp on details or explanations because you assume people read them in a previous post – they may not have.
How do you define friendship these days? Do you think people throw around the word too liberally? Do you consider your blog readers to be friends? How does that affect your approach to writing?