To Respond or Not to Respond

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Our incoming messages are exploding.

LinkedIn messages. Facebook and Twitter notifications. Emails. Texts. Snaps.

Just reading and responding to everything could be more than a full-time job.

You need a strategy for when you do and don’t respond.

And I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that no response is the right way to say no.

In our hyperconnected world, our humanity and good manners can too easily go by the wayside.

Sometimes it’s because we can’t help the person and we need to say no. In those cases, have a standard professional response you can copy, paste, edit and send to say you’re not interested at this time, but you’ll keep the info for future reference.

Some messages are easy not to respond to:

  • Automated sales pitches, usually via LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Connection requests immediately followed by a sales pitch, again, usually via LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Connection requests in LinkedIn from people you don’t know and that aren’t personalized to explain why they’d like to connect with you
  • Tweets that mention you as a way to draw you into an issue for which you can offer no meaningful response

Some messages deserve a response. And while it would be easy enough to ignore them, giving a response can set you apart and enhance your company’s reputation:

  • Customers of your company who need help getting an issue resolved. Respond to that customer right away.  Be a friendly, helpful, human face and voice. Connect them with your company’s customer care team for a rapid response.

Interesting stat: 78% of people who complain to a brand in Twitter expect a response within an hour. Another one: 77% of people feel more positive about a brand when their tweet has been replied to.

(This is where I remind readers that opinions expressed are my own.)

  • People from your alma maters, past and present employers and other professional groups who ask for your advice or an introduction to a colleague for networking purposes.
  • Connections, colleagues and friends who post valuable content. Read their link, give them a “like” if the content is something you want to be associated with, and leave a short and upbeat comment that adds a constructive observation to the dialogue. Social media is all about reciprocity.

And some messages fall in between.

An example? A request to connect to one of your connections, without a clearly stated reason.

Recently a LinkedIn connection asked to connect to a colleague, to invite her to an event. I suspected it was a sales pitch and didn’t want to spam my colleague. I asked the requester for more info. Never heard back. End of story.

Suppose you do decide to respond to a message to decline a request and you get a response asking for something else.

What then?

Here I take my cue from a wise colleague, Tina Morefield. She’ll send a response. One response. And after that, no more.

Unless, of course, it’s from a customer who needs your help. In that case, keep responding until the issue is resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. Because our customers are the lifeblood of our organizations.

When do you respond? When do you not respond?

Published by

Caroline Leach

Hi, I’m Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories.

I’m a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

This blog, Social Media Savvy for Corporate Professionals, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too.

Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I’d love to hear from you!

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