You’ve had a long, exhausting week and as you’re getting ready to shut your computer down for the evening you notice you’ve got new mail. Try as you might to resist, you decide to check them out, only to realize that you’ve got a handful of requests to connect from the same person across several social media networks. An even closer look reveals they are from a guy you chatted with briefly during a Twitter chat. You don’t really know this person yet, but already he’s looking to take it to the next level. To make matters that much more awkward, there isn’t even a note attached as to who he is or why he wants to connect.

Just because you’ve connected with someone a few times on a social network, doesn’t mean you really know that person. That takes time and doesn’t always happen if you’re limited to screen time.

We All Do It Differently

Each of us uses our social networks in a way that is unique to us – one man’s right is another man’s wrong. Some people add anyone and everyone to their public Twitter account while keeping their Facebook profile private, connecting only with close friends and family. There are so many variations on how public or private we can be across social networks that it’s nearly impossible to know everyone’s individual comfort level. Sometimes we have clues showing us how open or closed someone may be to connecting, but most of the time it is a guessing game that requires us to take some chances.

Beating the Odds

If you are interested in connecting with people across social networks without looking like a bit of a cyber-stalker, consider asking them if it’s alright to reach out to them on those particular networks. Let them know why you’re interested in connecting and if you haven’t been chatting with them long enough for them to know you well, give them a little information about yourself when you ask. Ask for what you want and you just might get it.

How Soon Is Too Soon?

We’ve heard that social media is a cocktail party, so if you were at a cocktail party and you just met someone would you follow them home? Probably not. Though some people might be flattered at the gesture and even find it endearing, many might be creeped out. The same could hold true for social media. This is not to say that you can’t connect soon after meeting, but it’s probably a better idea to take some time to get to know people before you reach out to connect with them across social networks.

Perhaps a better way to connect with the people you would like to get to know better is to invite them to connect with you instead. A simple status update, with a link, letting friends and followers know that you’re interested in connecting with them on Google+ (or your network of choice) is usually all it takes to start connecting the dots.

What’s Your Motivation?

The reasons you’d like to connect across platforms should really be about building relationships and providing value. Are there benefits to this? Absolutely! Ask yourself why it is you’re connecting and be honest with yourself. Is it a numbers game or are you truly interested in getting to know the people you are reaching out to? Being authentic is an integral part of social etiquette so make sure that transitions over to your social media efforts as well.

Is there such a thing as connecting too soon? How comfortable are you in connecting with people you’ve just met? Do you connect with the same core group of people across multiple platforms or do you have a different community for each social network you’re on?