Speaking as a former technology Luddite (I did not lose my Web virginity until my 50th birthday had sailed by), I am thrilled to see how well the latest Social Media tools can work. I posted my LinkedIn profile, emailed 30 colleagues to cue them I had joined their virtual network and within hours the number of unique visitors to my blog had tripled and one contact wrote back to offer me a job. All of this happened – not on a “busy” weekday – but on a late, sleepy Sunday afternoon. Clearly, these online networks operate 24/7 and folks are not just surfing; they are working!
Lest you think my virtual network success was a bolt from the blue, it was not. I have been developing networks the old fashioned way (phone, letter, email, and shockingly even face-to-face) for eons. I have tippy-toed into the virtual world with extreme care and much due diligence. I studied all the do’s and don’ts and scoured zillions of online tutorials before I so much as typed the big “T” for Twitter!
Five steps I learned the hard way which could be key to your success:
1. Identify your audience. Is this about family and friends or professional colleagues and securing a job?
2. Know what you want to say and, of course, have something to say that will be of interest or value to your audience. Nobody really cares if you’re having bananas or blueberries on your cereal each morning. But, if you had a flash of genius about how to secure the job of your dreams whilst munching, it might be okay to mention the fruit – just don’t overdo it. Your audience is interested in your epiphany not your edibles.
3. Determine how you want to convey your message (humor, info, facts, data, personal experience, aggregated wisdom) and then assess which platform (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc) will work most effectively for you. Don’t jump in with both feet. Dip a toe in to test the water and make sure you can wriggle all ten comfortably before you dive in to another platform.
4. Always remember that, like a traditional on-the-ground network, your virtual network needs nurturing and on-going maintenance. Keep it fresh and up-to-date. If you limit your postings to once a year or even once a month, it connotes a certain lack of interest and commitment or, even worse, that you really don’t know what you are doing!
5. Be prepared to let go. Once you post what you consider a wise or erudite tidbit, be open to feedback – both positive and negative. That interchange or exchange of information and insights is the real value added – the way we learn.