How to Add Friends and Influence People

Stafford Wood’s advice on using LinkedIn and other professional social networks well


Ever since Dale Carnegie published "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in 1936, people have been following his magic formula for success. The chairman, President and CEO of Berskhire Hathaway, the fifth largest public company in the world, Warren Buffett, took the Dale Carnegie course when he was 20 years old, and still has the diploma in his office.

In trying to adapt for the world of social media, specifically professional use on services like LinkedIn, the rules don't quite translate directly, but the headings are just about perfect. I've used some of the exact same chapter headings from the original 1936 book. Here I present for your consideration, "How to Add Friends and Influence People," a compendium of advice for Linking In in the most advantageous way.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  1. Don't connect with people you don't know. When someone asks to join my LinkedIn connections and I've never met them, it has to be a very special person to gain my connection. On the other hand, I frequently tweet with, email or call people I don't know without hesitation. Asking to "add someone as a connection" is like making your relationship "Facebook official" - not something to be done before you really know someone.
  2. Disagree with someone's opinion in private messaging, in a polite and kind way. Never flame or post with abandon on someone's heartfelt link, photo or post. If you must express your disagreement, send a private message and focus on how you feel or tell a story that illustrates the problem with the person's position. Anecdotes are much better for explaining your position than just saying "Nuh uh."
  3. Share things that people want to know more about or that arouse in them a particular favorable emotion or curiosity. Don't share things that are only interesting to your mother.

Six Ways to Make People Like You (or in this case, Six Ways to Make People Add You, Pay Attention to You and Not Hide You)

  1. Comment and "like" appropriate things. If you have a coworker who you barely know, don't post intimate and personal responses to her weekend plans, but feel free to like her engagement ring picture.
  2. Be upbeat and positive in your posts. I'm quick to hide someone who always complains about work, unless being friends with Sylvia Plath actually makes me feel better about my own life.
  3. Tag people appropriately to draw them into a conversation or give someone a shout-out when he is featured in media for something good.
  4. Be interested. Not interesting.
  5. Avoid exclamation points!!!!! They make your "voice" sound impatient and full of hyperbole!!!!!
  6. Authenticity rules the day online. There's no separation between personal and professional, so do your best to be your best self always. But especially online.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

  1. When someone makes a typo, ignore it. Unless it's a funny typo. In which case, you should laugh out loud, not post "LOL."
  2. Re-share posts from people's business or community efforts to support things they are passionate about.
  3. Don't post "chin up" things on other folks’ pages or tag them inappropriately (think: Alcoholics Anonymous Chips ... they're anonymous for a reason). Let people experience their down times in private, but feel free to send lots of private messages to show your love and support for a friend having a tough time.
  4. Share your own opinions about politics sparingly and always with a spirit of unity and hope for the future.

Letters That Produced Miraculous Results
Here's the anatomy of a message to connect to someone:

DON'T - I wanted to connect to you - completely unnecessary, as the program in question has already alerted them that you want to connect.

DO - It was great to meet you at {XXX Event}. - Remind them how you know each other.

DO - I'm hoping we can get together soon to discuss {XXX Topic}, but in the meantime, I hope you'll agree to connect here. - Encouraging the action you want them to take.

DON'T - If not, no big deal. - Don't undersell your request at the outset.

DO - Thanks and see you again soon! - Appreciation is always appreciated.

Seven Rules For Making Your Home Life Happier

  1. Put up your phone when you get home to talk to the people in your life for 30 minutes.
  2. Consider leaving your phone where you put it for another hour or two.
  3. Make eye contact with the people you love, by leaving your phone somewhere else for a little while.
  4. Turn off the ringer, when you leave your phone with your keys, so you don't have FOMO when it beeps.
  5. Don't share every moment with people outside of your intimate circle.
  6. Find time each week to leave your phone for an outing and just be together.
  7. Read a good book.

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