Building Relationships part 2

In the previous post in this series, I argued that Twitter is great for building bridging social capital – loose connections with large numbers of people who are quite different than you. Bridging social capital has several benefits, innovative thinking and new work opportunities being among them.

In this post, I draw upon Dale Carnegie to give you very simple advice about how to build relationships on Twitter. This question seems to be on my students’ minds a lot.

I fully believe that at this point in our social media world, the most precious and scarce resource is attention.


To build relationships, give people attention.

How do you give them attention? Reply to what they said. Jump into conversations, or reply to lonely tweets. Say something nice, or interesting, or supportive, or ask a question. Be careful with humor, it may or may not come across right in writing.

I was reading a women’s magazine’s yearly mandatory article about how to have fun at holiday parties. This line from a fashion model’s mother sounded like the perfect blend of Dale Carnegie in the attention economy:

“Look everybody in the eye and make them feel special. Give them warmth and attention.”

What are some of the things you do on Twitter that make people people feel special? How do you give warm and attention on Twitter? Can you share some tips with my students?

6 thoughts on “Building Relationships part 2”

  1. Deb, that’s very true. You cannot know when you got attention – but you can know when you give attention, and let others know that they have your attention. That’s how relationships are built. That’s what the question is about. We are all hungry for getting attention. I invite everybody, myself included, to focus on the ways we give this thing that everybody wants 🙂

  2. I agree, Mihaela – attention is key in relationships. One thing that’s different in Twitter is that you can’t look people in the eye to know if you even have their attention.

    So it’s hit and miss whether they even see your tweet. But the more you tweet, the more you will eventually hit home and the relationships start to build. I’m just learning this.

  3. Bill, you’re right – many things are fundamentally the same, but technology has changed the little ways (tactics) in which we manifest the same fundamental phenomena.

    I’ve been thinking about my own question and realize I didn’t answer it myself. So, here is one way in which I try to give warmth and attention on Twitter: I listen for the emotion underlying some tweets, and whenever I can, I provide emotional support. If someone is frustrated, I try to remind them to take deep breath. If someone is feeling guilty about taking time to rest, I try to remind them that they need and deserve it, etc. Replying to people, making them feel noticed and acknowledging their feelings are my little ways to give attention.

  4. This is the first time I’ve seen “Twitter” and “Dale Carnegie” used in the same sentence. And it makes so much sense. What Mr. Carnegie taught us in his little book — back in 1936 — is to listen actively and respond sincerely. He showed the world “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

    Technology has changed a lot of things, but relationships are still fundamentally the same. I show people I’m interested in them by linking others to their work. And I try to mix in a little humor about every third tweet. People love to smile.

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