What does it mean when no one adds you back on a social network?

No worries. Before long, you too will have friends and followers on your social networking Web sites.
No worries. Before long, you too will have friends and followers on your social networking Web sites.
Erin Patrice O'Brien/Getty Images

Social networks like Twitter and Facebook allow you to keep up with people you know in real life. But they also allow you to meet and keep up with people you've never met. For example, you may wind up adding a person to your social network simply because he or she works in the same industry as you, shares similar interests or has a lot of witty things to say.

On Twitter, many people expect that if they start following someone, that person will follow them back. And if you send a friend request to someone on Facebook or MySpace, you pretty much expect acceptance. But what if that doesn't happen? What if your friend requests are ignored? What if your list of followers is so cavernous that your tweets echo? Should you care that you aren't gaining any friends, followers or adds in these online communities?

Well, sure. Social networking is about relationship building. If, despite your efforts, you aren't getting adds, it makes sense to review what you're doing that may be affecting other people's perceptions of you. In the social networking community, no one is required to add another person, and it's much easier to ignore people online than it is in real life. But by adding people online, you may improve your relationships in the real world.

People online are looking for the same things that they look for in real life. They want good information and the feeling that they're in a relationship. They don't want to feel like they're on the receiving end of a sales pitch. If, after taking steps to change how you present yourself online, you still don't have as many adds as you would like, don't take it personally. Some people prefer to have more people following them than they follow (on Twitter), while others intentionally keep their friend count low so that they can easily maintain the relationships.

While you never know other people's motivations, there are certain things that you can do to increase your odds of attracting and keeping people in your social network. What are they?