It started slowly.

One day I got an email from someone I didn’t know, mentioning I’d once shared a post from his site, and wouldn’t I consider maybe looking at this other one and sharing that, too?

Another time, it was someone saying she’d seen me share a post from someone else’s site, and she’d followed me on Twitter a long time and wouldn’t I consider maybe looking at this post of hers, or anything else on her site, and share that, too?

This week, I got, from a young brand (when does a company stop being a startup? Subject for another day), an odd email. I had Tweeted a post last year (yes, nearly a full year ago) — a friend had written about design strategies and calls to action. This company emailing me wondered if I might share a blog post they had written on a similar topic.

I will not name the company because they are far from the only one doing this (I have heard from many others getting similar queries in their inboxes). I would love to know, however, how much time they spent looking up who had tweeted this post a year ago. A. Year. Ago.

Haven’t we heard all the stories about how social media and content marketing is all about relationships? You have conversations with people, engage (ooh, that nasty buzzword!) — you build your network.

Back in the pre-Facebook and Twitter days, we built relationships by commenting on other people’s blogs. If someone we’d never talked to before dropped a link into the comments, that was considered poor behavior. Even if the link was related and on-topic. The point is, you didn’t have the right to push your way into that conversation if you’d never even commented before.

I’ve said it before — that’s like seeing two people talking about something at a cocktail party and barging in and pushing your product in their face and saying, “BUY MY THING. I HEARD YOU TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE MY THING, NOW BUY MINE.”

You’d probably be kicked out pretty fast and never invited back to that party again.

So here’s a protip: If you want someone to share your work, why don’t you start by … talking to her or him?