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That Whole Social Networking Thing

That Whole Social Networking Thing

    If you haven’t figured this all out, the reason the world is going all social networking happy is because this is your means to connect to people directly and get away from the rigid structure of corporate ladders and protocol and hierarchy. It’s a way to extend your audience of friends, colleagues, business partners, and teammates. The whole point of this is to build your new world map from the digits and bits and free hugs left floating out there on the Internet in search of you. Did you know that? People are trying to find you and connect.

    Why so many platforms?


    Just like in real life, there are tons of networks, and they each have their own spin. There are presence networks like Twitter and Jaiku. There are broader platforms like Facebook or the less elegant MySpace. And there are networks with themes like Flickr for photos, or LinkedIN for business. There are do-it-yourself social platforms like Ning. I could name tons more sites (and all those links are to my profiles on all those sites), but you get the point.

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    Why so many? Because there are different reasons to be part of different groups. And all of these groups drive one thing: connection to other people who share similar interests.

    Social Networks are the New Chambers of Commerce

    I believe if you’re a business, or belong to a certain profession, that joining the trade organizations and consortiums and chambers are all important duties to continue doing in the “real world.” But it is just as important to establish your footprint in virtual spaces, like Second Life, where plenty of real world business is being transacted every day. On top of this, these personal social networks like the Twitters and the Facebooks are important ways to reach out and establish relationships. And if you join some of the non-work-heavy sites like a Flickr, you get the added benefit or proving to prospective customers, clients, and colleagues that you’re a real human being, talented, and not just some kind of corporate robot.

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    Tie them all together

    I’m a big fan of Wink, as a site that ties all kinds of various tools together. They mix everything from your SMS messages in Twitter to your photo stream to your del.icio.us bookmarking all neatly into one package. Then, should you keep a blog, they make a really cool widget you can add into your sidebar or place on a page, such that someone can quickly and easily connect to you through all your various social outlets. See an example here.

    Tips for newcomers

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    You get what you put in, is my first point to make. Second, the first thing you should do upon joining ANY social network, is determine how things are done, the social norms of the environment. For instance, I joined a community that operates via mail lists, and I ended up sounding a little too “pitchy” for people. They got mad pretty quick. Had I read a few dozen emails from other group members, I would’ve understood the “lay of the land” a little better.

    I recommend using your picture everywhere you can. On my blog, I griped about LinkedIN not having photos as part of a profile page, and got a neat response from the company, but really, most of these other places permit a user picture. Resist the urge to put your logo, and throw a headshot up there. Make it more personal that way.

    The real return on social networks

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    Most of my friends over the last several months got jobs through a social network. Real, paying jobs. They found things they were passionate about, met the people deep within organizations that mattered to them, and they tied those relationships together. Do I need to tell you more than that? You can’t do that with a corporate directory. You can’t do that with the average ad. Meet real people, connect, build relationships. It’s how this gets done these days.

    Chris Brogan blogs at [chrisbrogan.com]. He got his current job creating the Video on the Net conference by creating a free unconference called PodCamp. Meet him in Stockholm Sweden, 12-14 June, at PodCamp Europe.

    Photo credit, ganonzote

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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