Social with Sam: DM Etiquette, Part 1

Graphic by Liz Atchley

Ah, the power of a DM!

Also known as the 21st Century’s instant message, a DM, or direct message, is not only a great way to comment on your friends late night impromptu karaoke session, but a great tool for networking. I’ve connected with so many industry professionals and even made new friends by DMing people I find interesting or have something in common with, but have seen so many cases where it’s gone horribly wrong. Here are a few Dos and Don’ts when it comes to reaching out to people you admire or want to connect with.

Introduce yourself

Do: If you’re reaching out to an industry professional, introduce yourself! Tell them your name, what you do (or what you want to do), and what you like or admire about them.

Don’t: Do not just assume they know who you are or will research you on the spot. Believe it or not, people do have a life! Tell them why they need to know you but do it in a simple and kind way.

Tell them why you’re reaching out

Do: Let them why you want to connect and compliment something they’ve done that you admire. I would recommend saying something along the lines of “Hi ____! My name is _____ and I loved the shoot you did with Vogue/the article you wrote interviewing Billie Eilish/etc. I am really interested in learning more about your career journey at (company). Could I have your email to set up a short 15-minute chat to learn more?” That way they know you did your research and honestly want to connect.

Don’t: Please do not just say “Hey you should know me because I do this and this” because that comes off cocky and arrogant. Though social media may seem like a chill place, you need to remember it’s still an extension of your personality and when trying to network you need to keep it professional.

Keep it short and simple

Do: When first reaching out, keep your message to 4-5 sentences max. Use the example I provided above or tweak it to make it sound more like you.

Don’t: Do not reach out to someone you admire or want to know more about with a 500-word essay. Keep it short and simple and don’t set up a meeting time with them via DM. It will get lost! My best piece of advice would be to ask them for their email and set up a meeting time there. However, if you do set up a time and date to chat through DM, make sure you send them a calendar invite or a follow up email with the information. That way if they forget your name or accidentally delete the conversation, they’ll have a backup way to get in touch with you.

Follow up

Do: If you haven’t heard anything two weeks after sending your first message, follow up! Maybe you’re in their “request” folder and they just haven’t gotten around to clearing that out. A week after that, if you still haven’t heard back, you can follow up another time, try to find an email to reach out to, or just move on.

Don’t: Don’t get discouraged if you haven’t heard back. People are busy and may not check their social media accounts very often. Try to find their email address or try reaching out on a different platform! From Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Clubhouse, there’s a lot of ways to reach out to someone on social media.

Now that you have the basics on how to professionally reach out to someone you want to connect with through DM go forth a conquer!

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