You Don’t Have to Be an Ambivert to Interact on Social Media

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The entire point of social media is to interact. You don’t have to be gregarious. I enjoy (with the requisite smirk) a good rant from time to time. I’ve even posted a good rant from time to time. But you have to function, that is you have to get in the mix, find your niche, and participate.

Sure, social is a fuzzy concept. When we add media, a means of communication, maybe it gets even fuzzier. So, the application of what it means to be social can vary depending on context and conditions. That’s what they tell me. I don’t know how you can be social without communicating. It seems like a lot of people are trying.

Social media interaction isn’t tough for me. I’m an ambivert―an extroverted introvert who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion. All.the.time. I put myself out there, but I really do live in my head. Social media is perfect for me.

And it makes me a little weird. That’s what they tell me.

I have started doing a lot more weird stuff.

On Twitter: When someone follows me, I write them a little message. Thanks for following! I look forward to your tweets. The exchange of information and insights is always a pleasure. Please contact me if I can help in any way. And I add a little something specific to them, their blog or website that I do actually visit and read.

Every now and then I get a request to Keep the conversation going! And I know. It’s weird. Because I do.

I’d love to get more of those requests!

I started thanking people for retweeting and liking posts. Some people interact. They get it. Some don’t. Never understood that.

On Facebook: I thank people for replying to a post. On my freelancing page*, I even posted a Thank You to all of you who were kind enough to stop by, like my page, and otherwise say Hello. Why? Because you rock!

I always thank people for their comments on my status updates.

Why? Because I’m part of your network just like you’re part of mine. You kinda deserve a response. It’s just good manners.

On LinkedIn: Paul Castain of Castain Training Systems posted an awesome article recently on LinkedIn. Paul said the platform looks like a bunch of people wandering around mumbling to themselves!

And he’s right. Without interaction, social media is whacky self-talk. Paul asks, How many people actually take the time to respond to you? It’s a good question. Are we in the mix? Are we communicating? Or do we maintain a funky attitude that we’re going out of our way when we interact, respond, or say thank you?

Frankly, this stuff almost got me to abandon Twitter way back in 2011. I stayed because I started using it in new ways.  I have continued to evolve how I use that tool.

With LinkedIn, it’s not just a matter of interaction. It’s one of perception. When people say, “Why should I be active on LinkedIn if I’m not looking for a new job?” they’re expressing a fixed mindset.

“I’m working and I have a great resume. I don’t need LinkedIn.” Fixed Mindset.

With a growth mindset, you can see social media in broader terms. I think I still have at least as much to learn as I have to offer on that platform.

My change in perspective, on social media in general and LinkedIn in particular, came about because of changes in my career trajectory. In no small measure, let me tell you.

When I came into contact with brand strategist Peter Economides and his global perspective, my attitude shifted again.

Peter is the kind of person who thinks in terms of how a situation relates to the rest of the world. When I came across Peter Economides, the Greek financial crisis had reached critical mass.

His attitude? Greece is awesome and we’re all connected in a lot of ways. He wanted to evolve branding and rebrand Greece. That’s global in a world that wants to be individual in the most fixed ways imaginable.

Talk about responding and interacting. But before I digress too far, it doesn’t need a grand a gesture.

A lack of participation, as Paul Castain points out, substantially diminishes the platform. The point of LinkedIn is to do business and people do business with those they know, like, and trust. How can you get to know, like,  and build trust without interaction? You can’t.

Responding, interacting and showing kindness and civility matters. Because we’re human. We’re social. We want to stand out, collaborate, interact. I know I do and if I do there have to be millions of others who do as well. If I don’t know you we can’t get there and that’s ridiculous.

You know what isn’t ridiculous―being social on a social network. One of my problems was I first reacted to social media by going about it as though I was mingling in a crowd. Or maybe wading through a crowd.

The noise out there on the Internet became a way for me to not see the forest for the trees. Navigating social media should be about creating and strengthening relationships. We do this with other people on a one-to-one basis just like traditional networking.

And I don’t want to spread myself out too thin. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are my  Big 3. Instagram and Pinterest are tempting. As time has gone by, they haven’t resonated with me. If they resonate with you, get on ‘em!

Then there’s LiveJournal, DeviantArt, Flickr, Snapchat, and more. Lots of choices. (Google + is a story for another day.)

The real choice is connecting with people not just connecting with the “right” platform. At first, the thing for me was to get to know Twitter or LinkedIn, but we’re there to get to know people. When I connect with someone, we have a real interest in getting to know one another. It’s been about like-mindedness.

Being random doesn’t work for the way I’m wired. The more I focus on personal and work specificity, the more selective I’ve become. And the more meaningful the connections have become, too.

Where are you in your journey with social media interaction? Are you a little lost in the forest? Are you giving and seeking opportunities to impart value? Have you spread yourself out too thin making responses and engagement difficult?  Have you gotten to a point where you’re thinking about producing video or a podcast? I’d really like to know. Really.

Thanks so much for dropping by. If you’d like to interact and leave a comment, that would be awesome. Let’s keep the conversation going!

*https://www.facebook.com/pkfreelance/

Gertrude Stein Loves Social Media

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Social media in and of itself is meaningless.

Shocking declaration from a content writer and social media coordinator, blogger and everything the hell else I am.

The fact is there are worse things that go on and on in our daily lives that interfere with our freedom and self-determination and we love those things. We have a taste for whatever we can use more so than for the things that we can love.

Bear with me on this, because there is a beyond-Facebook point to what follows here. But, let’s get to social media and Facebook as a case in point: There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.

For me, social media is usually thought of as “good” for 5 reasons.

Reason No. 1—Social Media is good because it’s a tool. Not just something we can use but something we can love. As a bright shiny distraction, social media keeps me in touch with people and the thing I value most―relationship.

As a freelancer, social media gives energy and propulsion to mastery and purpose. That is, social media is effective for promoting ideas and plans, for career and evolving projects, for meeting potential clients and launching entrepreneurial initiatives.

I have often repeated that to me social media is underutilized by community development practitioners, counselors, therapists, healthcare professionals and healthcare entrepreneurs. Over the last 2 years, I have witnessed a huge change as these professionals have really caught on. Their relationships have grown hugely matching any and every sector out there.

For me, it begins and ends with relationships. I had a great conversation with a friend of mine, a passionate VP of sales and consultant with a radical web development company. He was telling me about how corporate was pushing for closings. While we sure did agree that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to close more deals, as we spoke we came to a couple of important conclusions.

  1. Closing a deal, like anything else, is not a magical occurrence because it does not exist in isolation, and cannot appear by sheer force of will.
  2. Before you can close, there is a full spectrum of actionable items you need to bridge.

The first and last item on the spectrum is relationship.

Reason No. 2—Social Media can be a veritable provenance of insight, creativity, and well-thought-out viewpoints. Setting aside Caturday and the millionth mention of Nikola Tesla, platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook obviously work for me and other freelancers.

The people I have met through social media have helped me shape my main goals and helped motivate me to move forward―in spite of conventional ideas of what success should look like. My connections and followers on social media have provided benefit and value as I pursue freelancing.

I’ve learned a lot and continue to as relationships grow.

They have inspired an upgrade of self as the new year approaches. Success for me has been hinged on becoming a person business, so to speak―not at all precluding being a business person, but in essence, running my life as though I am the brand.

After all,  I am the capital, I am the operation.

This is a season to explore a sort of economics of Self―an investment in functioning, becoming a think-tank of mission and goals; networked and affiliated, sharing and earning―not merely consuming.

It’s okay to be an artist and a guru, it’s also okay to acquire and accumulate. The seeds I have planted concerning the business I am into today and frankly, the business I am not into (what’s none of my business)—have begun to bear fruit. Even the iPhone pics of the food I cooked at home have provided dividends.

Reason No.3—Because Facebook allows me to stay in contact with the real people in my life, I am enjoying connections with friends, and family [of choice] without having to lie about “let’s keep in touch,” or about FaceTime and phone calls none of us will ever make.

If I had a dime for every time I said or was asked to keep the conversation going. Wow.

There’s at least one opinionated virago out there who’d be happy to tell you: This ain’t news, this ain’t special, interesting or Earth shattering. Like Gertrude Stein said, ‘Nothing will ever be more interesting than the American Civil War.’

Let the mossbacks say what they like—it’s none of my business. Truth is, I have known some of my Facebook friends―yes indeed they are Facebook “friends,” but they are actually genuine friends, too―going back to the age of 12. We’re in contact with one another because it’s the best way to keep in touch.

Some of the people that I know on Facebook, in fact, the biggest circle of people that I know in social media, are people that I’ve known since I was in my 20s. There are some people in social media that I’ve known from anywhere between 5 years to just a few weeks. Or less.

Reason No.4—My social media presence is evolving as I evolve, and as social media itself evolves. It truly is a journey.

I began freelance writing as a generalist. I was told to find a niche and I organically grew toward creating content for websites and work as a social media coordinator. This wasn’t just something that happened overnight. But being no great fan of irony, I had to make an exception because as I niched down, I expanded my competencies. All because I value relationship building.

This is what happened as a result of nurturing relationships: A potential client and I connected over Skype for a 30-minute meeting. His website content was sparse and poorly written. He wasn’t a writer and didn’t want to be a writer.

We ended up talking for almost an hour and a  half. It wasn’t all business. Not directly. We were getting to know one another as people first, as business associates second.

Then he asked, “How can you expand on what you’re already doing?”

So, not being a fan of irony, I am a huge devotee of the epiphany. The ah-ha moment. The proverbial lightbulb over my cartoon head. The end result of our conversation was that he saw an appropriate fit and hired me as a Social Media Coordinator.

Expanding competencies.

Reason No.5—Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. ― Gertrude Stein

There’s a lot of noise on the Internet.  The noise is part of the two biggest challenges that you and I face.

The first is to not allow our best moments and our momentum to get rerouted by every single great idea that pops into our heads.

The second is the closely related Bright Shiny Objects.

I use my Mac’s Stickies, Notes, and Text Edit apps. When I get an idea, it goes on Stickies. If later in the day it seems not too excessively insane, it goes on Notes. Then, if it’s not just another bright shiny distraction, I look into it further.

Some ideas are awesome ideas but they’re not for me. There’s the issue of what resonates and what integrates. If it isn’t fundamental to my process, or can’t become part of the mix, I cannot waste my time on it.

Then there are the pure, unadulterated Bright Shiny Objects. I have mixed feelings about these. Nowadays, I allow myself a short amount of time for them. In the past, I could really mess up my flow, the efficiency of my entire day.

It’s 9:00 a.m., I’m having coffee and researching an article and before you know it, it’s lunchtime and I haven’t written a word. Chasing squirrels is a Bad habit!

Well, not always. There have been frequent experiences where distractions led to discovery. Researching one topic has often led to inspiration, jotting another two or three ideas on Stickies, and honoring my process.

Best of all, allowing yourself to chase something shiny can lead to an introduction.

I consider it quite an honor to have connections on LinkedIn and Twitter with influencers and thought leaders. Maybe some of these relationships were inevitable, but if allowing time for the chase initiated a conversation then no harm no foul.

If we allow a small part of our day to be taken up by a bit of distraction we may find that it doesn’t automatically have to interfere with purpose and mastery.

Mastery is about living our lives in a more meaningful and fulfilling manner.

Purpose strives for achievement.

We are not our distraction. We are made up of countless traits, not just distraction or any other single characteristic or habit. Our daily purpose is to enhance the enjoyment of our work and our being. Work is only a part of our existence and will never to prove our worth.

Whether we’re multitasking, strictly focused, or totally distracted, we have enough fulfillment and purpose to carry us through. Social media engagement has been the capstone of my freelancing adventure.

And sometimes, we do need to disconnect on a whole mess of levels and just be still. Like Gertrude Stein said, ‘Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.’

Stumble over your next blog topic, your next connection, the influencer or thought leader you connect and engage with. You have the mastery and the tools. Social Media is one of them. Love these things. Love them all.

 

Photo Credit: © 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Hit The Ground Running Today With Community and Networking

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I have some questions I like to ask potential clients. My commitment is to providing excellence and value, and I like to initiate conversations that lead to relationship. My favorite question is what are your biggest challenges?

When I’m asked the same question, I try to come up with answers that don’t seem negatively revelatory. You know? I have this discomfort with coming across as fragile. A fragile freelance writer sounds unproductive, ineffective, boring. That’s just bad for business.

It’s a good idea to be completely honest, especially with ourselves. So I ask myself, what is my biggest challenge? My answer―isolation.

There were a lot of things I used to believe I wasn’t good at. Whether it was true or not, I believed I wasn’t much of a fiction writer. I recently finished a short story. My first in a long time.

Early drafts went to about 4500 words. The feed back I got, from people who know what they’re talking about, was that the ending left them hanging. The final draft, if there is such a thing, is almost 8000 words. And the ending rocks.

It is a good story. At that length, it’s more of a novelette. And it’s the first time I felt some level of fulfillment with my fiction writing.

You know what the best part of the process was for me? Having a solid network of artists and writers, and that highly regarded polymath, to take the write to for their input.

A Network. Yeah man. I like it. I like it a lot.

I always perceived myself as a crushing introvert. It’s a story about myself that belongs in the past. I really doubt that anyone who knows me would say I’m reserved. Introspective maybe, but not shy.

Networking was a skill I thought I lacked in spades. Nope. Also not true. I may not be as aggressive about it as I would like to be―today―but I do not shy away from reaching out.

The best way to overcome a sense of isolation is to take a good hard look at what it takes you, with your style and personality, to choose the right people to engage with.

When I began my Masters program, I used LinkedIn. There was no uncertainty about who to reach out to. I was studying Professional Counseling, and my network consisted of social workers, intake specialists, MFTs and Professional Clinical Counselors.

With my love for a strong quad espresso, it was a huge pleasure to meet at Starbucks with both established therapists and counseling interns. As it turns out, people are more like me than I thought. They loved having their brains picked and sharing their experiences with supervision, clients, and the arcane process of becoming a licensed professional in our state.

People want to share their experiences and their expertise. They want to make time for that. They want to make time for you.

Another way to escape the grips of isolation is finding the right communities to connect with, too. It’s a privilege to open your email and see an invitation to a closed Facebook group. It feels good to have arrived at a point where networking becomes a two-way street.

No one wants a one-way relationship. Not in business and not in our personal lives. The best relationships are more like multi-lane freeways. Exchanging information, insights, and experiences are awesome signposts, pointing out that you are in fact running on the road to success.

When you see those markers on the roadside of your journey, feel encouraged. It’s proof positive that you’re taking off in the right direction.

And while I’m engaging in communities with like-minded professionals, and networking with the right people in my niche, I still make time for solitude. Writing requires solitude. Solitude is a positive experience. Isolation is not, because isolation is separation.

Solitude is for growth, for nurturing imagination. Separation is the loss of these things.

Networking and community involvement are the surest ways to grow personally, to build your business, increase engagement, live your freelancing life to the fullest. So connect.

That is the name of the game. Participation is stimulating and inspiring and motivates us to hit the ground running every day.