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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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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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