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Posted on Sun, Oct 30, 2011 : 6 a.m.

Forwarding articles: The good and the bad

By Greg Peters


Photo by Oran Viriyincy

One of the best things you can do to help keep your network connections strong is forward email messages, blog posts, and other articles to those you've met in the past. It can also be one of the worst things you can do, depending on how you do it.

Let's take a look at some of the behaviors, both good and bad.

Good: A single recipient.
Bad: Multiple recipients.

If you are sending to more than one person, then you haven't really taken the time to make sure that every single one of them really wants to see this message.

Good: A personalized note along with the forward.
Bad: The forward by itself.

When you are forwarding an article, you should at least say why you are doing so. Even if the recipient ends up not caring about the article itself, they will still appreciate that you were thinking specifically of them.


Good: Useful information which provides value to the recipient's professional or personal life.
Bad: Jokes or "cute" messages.

If you want to have your connections view any and all incoming messages from you as light-weight and easily ignored, feel free to forward any joke or treacly poetry that you would like. If you want them to view your messages as something to open immediately, make sure they are immediately relevant.


Good: Professional non-confrontational information.
Bad: Politically or religiously oriented screeds.

I'm not telling you to avoid strong opinions. Just be aware that not everyone holds these same opinions. If you choose to send out information of a political or religious nature, be prepared to have chunks of your network suddenly not responding to your calls.


Good: Factual, accurate information.
Bad: Easily disproved misinformation.

If you are tempted to send along that Amber alert information or that warning about the latest computer virus, please, please, please, check your information first. I highly recommend that you do a simple search on the Snopes site ( The folks who run that site spend a lot of effort tracking down urban legends, rumors, and other stories that might not have a close relation to actual reality. If you don't do this, I guarantee that someone (possibly me) will send a gentle (or not so gentle) correction.

Remember, the information you pass along (and the way you do it) could either make you look like a responsible, knowledgeable, and well-connected individual or a bothersome, silly, and confrontational light-weight. Please choose wisely.

My inbox is full enough.

Greg Peters, founder of The Reluctant Networker LLC, writes, speaks and coaches about good networking practice. For more tips that can help your connections count, go to



Sun, Oct 30, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

This is a great article. I'm going to forward it to eveyone in my contacts list. Thanks for the advice.

Greg Peters

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 8:53 a.m.

OK, you can't make jokes like that when I'm taking a drink of water. Now I have to clean my monitor. ;-)

Linda Peck

Sun, Oct 30, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

Great advice! I try to do this as a routine. I hope to offend as few people as possible and delight as many as possible, with my forwards.

Greg Peters

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 8:52 a.m.

Great goals, Linda. With focused forwarding, we can tell our friends and acquaintances that we are thinking about them specifically and that we think we've found something that they will appreciate. I'm sure the people who receive your messages look forward to hearing from you all the time.