Before the social media presentation this past stormy, Monday night, there was more than one person I heard say "I don't know how any of this social media stuff can help my business." "I don't know why I'm here; none of this stuff applies to me." "I'm working in the cubicle; social media can't help me." Like dinosaurs missing the fact the meteor hit, I thought.
This, despite the fact that the speaker was Chris Brogan, a social media rock star who shows how it can help both you and your business. If you have some social media background, most of what he said made a big difference to the way you look at using social media to interact with people.
If you didn't have that social media background...well, I'm not sure it really answered the eternal question, "What's in it for me?" Maybe I was a bit harsh in the dinosaur analogy; perhaps we need to explain why social media helps someone rather than the tools and tactics you can use in social media to do something.
Let's take a frontal assault.
Social media is not about social media
The first hang up we need to get through is that social media is not about social media. It isn't about Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. It's not about the cool new features just brought out today by Hootsuite that help you manage your social media time across multiple platforms.
No, the premise one needs to understand is that we are in a world where relationships with other people are becoming paramount. We're at the point where it isn't the job boards that will get us the job, but the job opening we find out about from someone we have a relationship with in our life. And if that someone recommends us for the job to the hiring manager, the probability we get the job dramatically increases.
Relationships are still the currency that helps us find jobs, figure out if a restaurant is worth going to and find out if something is worth purchasing. Even more so today; how much do you trust BP to tell you about energy?
Social media helps you connect with more people
Social media, then, is a tool to help us connect with more people to build more relationships. Let's try a simple example from my own experience.
When I moved from Seattle-land this past December, I stayed connected with the people I worked with there even though I am living here in Wisconsin. Interestingly, I happened to have a conversation here in Wisconsin with a recruiter about a job opening back in Seattle-land. I offered three people there who I knew were qualified for the work...and they got an opportunity that they never would have had without it.
Without social media, we would have wandered away from our past connections 1700 miles away; there was no good way to stay in touch.
Social media turns cold contacts into warm ones
I really don't like phone calls from people I don't know. The "Do not call list" is one of my favorite tools! But an e-mail from someone I'm connected to in LinkedIn? Or someone who notes they follow me on Twitter and can show that? I don't throw you out the door or delete your e-mail. I read it.
Nothing may still happen, but there is a big difference between "immediate rejection" and "I'll read it." That can then develop to something more important.
For example, one of the people who I met through social media recommended that I connect with Christine Livingston of A Different Kind of Work. Makes good sense too; Christine writes about the New Work Pioneer and what it takes to become one. Oh, did I tell you she lives outside London, England? Yet, we share insights in the career space via e-mail about once a week. Without the entire string of connections via social media, I never would have known the great work she does.
It is still about relationships
Only you can make the relationship. Connecting with people still means you can't be a dinosaur and ignore what is going on around you thinking nothing is changing. Change is constant. As companies continue to move towards transactional relationships with their employees, it is imperative that we continue to build our personal relationships. Not only because it is rewarding to have the relationship, but because our relationships form a support group to help us with our lives.
Don't be a dinosaur that doesn't learn to dance. Figure out how social media can maintain and build your relationships with other people.