I have been an introvert all my life. Put me in a room full of people I don’t know and I am uncomfortable. Further, put me in a room full of people I do know but don’t trust, and my response is the same. I say little. Lastly, put me in a room with the small group of people I am comfortable with, and I will talk their ears off.
I was one of the first handfuls of employees at Albridge Solutions in the summer of 2000. I was a member of senior management but never attended one company picnic or any of the many social events. I did attend the holiday party each year because it was just too hard to avoid. If given the choice, I would likely have passed.
I hate it when colleagues ask me to go out for a drink after work. When the day ends, I want to go home and be with my family. I will go out when I travel, but that is about it.
We have lived in our home for 22 years, and I barely know our neighbors.
There is an oxymoron here, though.
I connect with approximately 15k people on LinkedIn, 17k on Twitter and 500 on Facebook.
So over 32k connections across social media. Sounds like a lot. I do value those links, but I don’t know or have relationships with all of them. I would say the quality relationships I have are likely about 1/2 of 1percent of my connections or say, 160 people. Of that, those I am close to number less than 10, these are also the people I call close friends.
Seems depressing but it’s not to me.
Social media connects many people and can connect us all. No one ever promised our networks would make us all best buddies. I imagine that could happen to some individuals who link online. Some meet spouses and partners on social media. Online dating is big business.
There is value in having a lot of connections. Somewhere between zero and my 32k connections is Gladwell’s tipping point.I sense it is as about 10k connections. That is when things changed for me.
Along my writing journey, my post views increased steadily and then shot into the thousands. I have more work to do here to continue growing. Big networks of connections contain the necessary ingredients for rapid growth. I use my network for messaging, distribution and more networking. It sounds like advertising and sales to me, and you know what?
Indirect and passive communication are wildly powerful messaging channels. These allow an executive with trust issues to run marketing and sales at the many companies I have worked at. This work is what pays our bills.
Social media has provided me a platform and raised my profile in a way that I could never have accomplished on my own. I feel safe on social technology platforms. I have worked hard and paid extra attention to how I am viewed and perceived online. The most important thing I have learned is to be helpful to others. It will be returned exponentially back to you. The Golden Rule plays out big time on the Internet.
For example, I recently posted an article and asked people to criticize it. My hope is to get it published on The Huffington Post website. I received over 50 responses highlighting suggestions so my post would read more fluidly. I incorporated the changes and now have more than 1100 views, 153 likes, 34 comments and 58 shares. Not one person said anything that wasn’t helpful, no nasty or smug comments at all.
So I looked at who was responding. I noticed that some were folks who wrote articles I have commented on, liked and shared. There were other people who were new to me. These folks all get it. They gave, and I am poised to give back when they post or ask for help.
Here is a tip that has paid itself back many times. Every person who shares one of my posts gets direct thanks from me through LinkedIn. It takes about 10 seconds to say.
John, thanks for the share. CF.
I would say about a quarter of these folks say “thanks” back to me for thanking them. Unreal but effective. Some make a comment about something they liked in the post. Often this is a day or two later which makes me feel good knowing I had an impact and they remembered it.
One more best practice is to make sure you comment to everyone who makes a sensible comment on your post. I try to do this within 24 hours. Often I respond before I leave for work in the morning, so I do not have to worry about it. If you get a nasty comment or troll, don’t engage with them. If you do engage with a troll here is what you can expect (per my friend John White of Social Marketing Solutions). John taught me the following lesson. You will endure 48 hours of unpleasant exchanges – so don’t waste your time.
Lastly, pictures are super important. As we all know, they mean so much more than anything you may write. Here is how I choose my photos. I receive many comments about them, so I think I am doing something right. I type into Google exactly what image I want. The first one I like, I choose. I don’t spend any more time on it than that. I think our first instincts serve us well.
Here is an image of social media.
So remember to put yourself out there. Be helpful. Comment, Like and Share and say “thank you” to those who went out of their way to read your content and respond to it. In short, all these activities add up to the exact definition of the word engagement. But perhaps the best thing you can do with social media, in my opinion, is to have fun with it.
P.S. My article Career Irony – Why I Never Cared About Corporate Values! is featured on the Huffington Post site. Thanks to all who helped me.
My best, Chris