Is There Such a Thing as Virtual Personal Space

Is There Such a Thing as Virtual Personal Space

personal space - Is There Such a Thing as Virtual Personal Space

or…When Social Networking Feels “Too Social”

When networking successfully today, we’re told it shouldn’t be all about business. When we come out of the gate promoting our products and services, people are turned off and?tune us out. Whether at a live networking event or connecting with people through virtual social networking sites, no one want to receive sales pitches, marketing emails, and links to buy the “latest, greatest product on the market guaranteed to make you rich in just 10 days.” It is important to allow others to have a glimpse into our “real” selves in order to find?a basis for a connection (expertise, interests, location, etc.)?and then begin to build a relationship from there.

Is there risk in this? Sure there is, although I’d say it is a relatively minor one as long as we are selective about what and how much we reveal. Through virtual networking, it is easy to quickly feel comfortable with someone and assume a greater degree of familiarity than might actually be reciproacted.? We don’t often have a well-defined and clearly-communicated sense of where the line is between appropriate and inappropriate networking interactions, but I’d venture to say that we sure do know it when that line has been crossed.

What has been your experience and how have you handled it? Have you been surprised by being called “Sweetie” or “Honey” in emails from business contacts??Have you ever?felt that line has ever been crossed? Has anyone ever told you that you had taken the interaction a little too far?

While I have heard such tales from others and have experienced several myself, I’m more interested to hear your perspective. Is there such a thing as personal space in the world of virtual and business networking?


  1. Donna Chmura April 7, 2009 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    I suppose it’s a personal preference, but I really don’t feel closer to the people who post pictures of their daily lattes, tell me they are going to lunch or what they had for lunch. I’d much rather get to know people through thoughtful comments on current events, other people’s blogs, business strategies. Even more global conversations about weather, kids, spouses, dogs are more preferable to me than “just had a rare hamburger and sweet potato fries” posts.

    And I’ve NEVER had anyone call me sweetie, honey, or babe in an email. Plenty in real life, and most of them don’t mean anything by it. Those that are trying to denigrate me will also underestimate me — to their peril.

  2. Cath April 25, 2009 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    I think that its the motive for networking that determines the terminology. Those who wish to exclusively social network are in danger of observing instant familiarity and their terms “sweetie”, “honey” could be genuine terms of fondness. I for one feel that irony can very easily be misinterpreted, I for one use it in bucketfuls…and that feelings could be equally compromised in reverse.
    That all said, most who enter the virtual world, have their eyes wide open. If they exercise their own code of conduct and pick and choose according to this, virtual personal space should be assured.
    That all said, I think that the power of the written word cannot be underestimated, lots more can be said to some apparent stranger than indeed a lifetime of verbal conversations to a loved one…

  3. Barbara Saunders May 1, 2009 at 7:40 am - Reply

    How personal a person should get on social networking depends on what his or her goal is. A person seeking director-level position in corporate management probably shouldn’t be posting photos of the day’s latte. A life coach whose niche is people who want to quit their day jobs and move overseas might well post photos of lattes imbibed at cafes around the world.

    I sometimes post trivia about movies I’m watching; I sometimes work (for pay) as a movie reviewer. To an observer, maybe my movie review posts seem trivial. It probably looked great to my employers, who wanted traffic to their site.

    For me, one of the interesting things about social networking is that all of these kinds of conversations are going on in the same place at the same time.

  4. Audrey Chernoff May 3, 2009 at 11:15 am - Reply

    I was only called honey online once and for some reason, it made me smile. In person, it might not have.

  5. AffirmingSpirit September 15, 2010 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Interesting points, Irene. Can’t recall being called “sweetie” or “honey” online, although it’s happened in person by complete strangers and close friends/family.

    In the Quantum MasterMind calls I created for solopreneurs, one of the most common comments is: Despite the plethora of social media, many solo biz owners feel even more isolated than when they did all their marketing offline!

    Solo small business owners, especially, crave the deeper discussions and reaching out to help (and be helped) by others who understand what they are doing.

    Many blessings,

    • Irene Koehler September 15, 2010 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      Thanks for adding your perspective, Nancy. I agree that when working primarily alone, it can feel very isolating. I do crave the relationships social networking has afforded me. Along the way, there have been a few which felt that they crossed the line with me. Getting to know people face-to-face is complicated enough and misunderstandings can certainly occur. Getting to know people online is even trickier.

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