It pays to stay in touch with friends and connections on social media

We have a network to explore, share and connect, not just exploit

By Shilpa Bhasin Mehra

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Published: Mon 23 May 2022, 10:58 PM

In school and at home, I was taught to wish everyone. It could be good morning or birthday greetings. Those days there was no social media that sent us reminders. We relied on our memory. My kids are shocked when I remember my cousins’ birthdays and send them cards every year.

So out of sheer habit, I wish everyone on my social network a happy birthday or congratulations. The message is typed out or I simply click a ready-made message to send. I don’t personally know many people, like on LinkedIn, but they are connections. I see no harm in sending good wishes.

Recently, I was about to wish someone and saw the trail of messages above. There was no response from the other side to my earlier messages. The thank-you response was also typed out for the recipient, just waiting for the click to send, but that wasn’t to be. So, I was thinking I will stop wishing that person. You can give someone the benefit of doubt once or twice, not always. He or she may have been too busy at that time or doesn’t log in and check messages often. But when this behavior is repeated, it’s time to stop wishing them.

Many of us have accounts on at least one social media platform but never seem to log in. Online platforms like to keep us informed about what our connections do. So you know who is active on it. Think before you say you never log in, because your activity is known to all.

You could be a ‘super busy’ or a very important person today who doesn’t feel the need to acknowledge wishes sent to you. But in these uncertain times that we live in, if our jobs vanish, we would want to renew connections that we ignored earlier. The people we sidelined may not respond. Some people don’t respond when they occupy important positions, but when they start their venture, they get active online. They know the power and reach of social media and are all over it.

So spare a moment or two for the people who are starting out and encourage them. Congratulate a fresh graduate or a new mom resuming work again. You don’t have to even type the words. Are you so busy that you can’t even tap on a message? Remember those days when we had to dial phone numbers on the giant black telephones with our fingertips turning blue.

I can understand the hundreds of messages for job placements that HR departments and senior management receive daily. You cannot respond to all of them and are quite fed up because of the constant buzz in your inbox. But don’t ignore the inbox either. There could be a nice message about wanting to connect with you anyway. I recently got a very nice message from a person who reads my articles regularly. We met for a coffee and it was most refreshing to have a conversation without any agenda or motives; just a simple desire to meet. Put a face to a name. Thanks to my articles, I get many such emails that really make my day. It reaffirms my faith that not everyone who contacts you needs a favor from you.

We have a network to explore, share and connect, not just exploit. Be a sharer and giver too, instead of just being a taker and user. People are quick to realise that this person only contacts when he needs something. A simple exchange of greetings once in a while is pleasant. In fact, it happens a lot on WhatsApp too. You get messages from some people only when they need something from you. Relationships should not be transactional, like when you go to a grocery store only when you need milk and bread. The context of some messages I know even before opening them, because of the nature of the sender. So, “now what” escapes my lips before I even read the message.

Our world has shrunk virtually to the mobile we hold in our hands. We could make excuses that the trunk call did come through 40-50 years ago. Now with the internet making the world shrink in our palms and with free apps, there is really no excuse for not being in touch. All you need is a genuine desire to connect on a wifi connection.

Shilpa Bhasin Mehra is an independent legal consultant based in Dubai

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