Updated: May 23, 2021
If you are a Bachelor franchise addict, you will no doubt have heard about the infamous 'sliding into DM's' that seems to happen between those "looking for love". Sliding into DM's in the dating world can be akin to sliding into dangerous territory. Sometimes those DM's are very much uninvited and unwanted, and things go pear-shaped.
If you aren't a Bachie addict (kudos to you, the marketing didn't work on you!), and you aren't familiar with why 'sliding in to DM's' is dangerous territory - whether networking OR dating - you absolutely need to read this. Because you likely haven't seen the effects of sending PM's or DM's to someone who hasn't consented to receive them.
There's so much more to consider than simply pm'ing someone you have no prior connection with - including the simple fact that it's actually against the law and there's some etiquette to consider if you are going to utilise this as a networking strategy. So many people don't consider this, and because they regularly utilise PM's or DM's to communicate for business and pleasure, they assume others do too.
If I've already lost you, and the pm/dm thing is like a foreign language to you, let me back up a step.
PM = private message
DM = direct message
Both occur on social media.
And, when networking online, people often forget that there's a level of both etiquette and responsibility when sending those messages.
That's the part we are discussing here.
In my role as Social Media Community Manager for a few clients, I regularly see people reply to someone's post within a group with "I've sent you a PM". It may seem pretty harmless, but it's actually not. Unless the original poster has expressly said in their post "Please PM me", there has actually been no permission granted to enter their private messages.
YOU MUST ASK SOMEONE IF IT'S OKAY TO DM/PM THEM BEFORE DOING SO. FULL STOP.
a) because it's manners,
b) because Facebook's (and Instagram's and LinkedIn's) Terms of Service say so, and
c) because it's against our Anti-SPAM laws to do so.
I liken it to this - would you just start texting someone you had seen lurking about at a networking event (but you never actually talked to them, and didn't ask them for their number - you just found it on socials)?
NO! Of course you wouldn't - you would actually have a brief chat and ask if it's okay if you text them (psst...if you WOULD, helpful hint: maybe rethink your networking strategy).
It's ALWAYS polite to strike up a conversation (usually on a Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn post through comments) and ASK if it's okay for you to pm the person. The Terms of Service mean that you can't just go messaging people without their consent - their messenger is not too dissimilar to phoning or texting them. The Anti-SPAM laws mean pretty much the same thing.
It's pertinent to remember that some people actually don't want their PM's/DM's inundated with work stuff and prefer to communicate via email or another format. And you should always ask what their preferred communication method is before assuming that messenger is it.
In short, just because you are communicating online through social media with potential networks, doesn't mean you should forget that you are still obligated to adhere to certain etiquette and legalities.