The two are seemingly on different sides of the spectrum – tiny towns and the worldwide web. I spent my childhood in the former and now help clients increase revenue through social media prospecting training. As I have delved more into social media, the best practices of those that were highly successful in this area started sounding familiar. Then I realized that many of these tips were similar to ones I had learned in my youth. I have listed a few below.
- Contribute to the community – In a small town people help each other out. The barn raising mentality is real. My grandparents always took food to any of their neighbors that were sick, or helped them with projects around the house. In turn, when they needed something, there were always plenty of caring people around to help. On social media, it’s easy to seem you’re out for number one. If you’re just posting about yourself and only contacting people when you need a reference or want to sell them something, you will not receive a great response. Groups that you join on LinkedIn are becoming very sensitive to this. You can share information but they do not want you pushing your product. You’re going to get a lot further when you do ask someone for a favor, if you have offered to help them already. This could be with a reference, or an article that relates to their work, or even offer a congratulations when they have accomplished something. Only then, should you feel comfortable enough to ask for any of these things yourself. You will find people are then much more responsive to what you need.
- Reputation is everything – In a small town, the community knows everything you do and they love to talk. When I was young, I once took my Dads car out for a little joy ride when they were out of town. My parents were only home 10 minutes before calls started coming in from the neighbors saying they saw a fairly small head behind the wheel of their car earlier. I couldn’t get away with that and there is very little you can get a way with on social media. The social community talks too and unlike a small town where rumors eventually loose their appeal, social media stays around forever. It doesn’t matter if you deleted all those photos of you turning up shots in college, or posting inflammatory statements during your rebellious years. They are still out there and can be pulled up by a potential employer or client. Don’t think you can be anonymous. Question yourself each time you post something if you would care if everyone could see it 10 years from now. If the answer is no, you’re good to hit the post button.
- Treat everyone with respect – In a small town, the people you encounter are your neighbors, your co-workers, your school mates, or friends of friends. On social media that is true as well. We all know the trolls. We read their nasty comments on news articles, blogs, Facebook and more. They thrive on negativity and seeking other angry responses by keying in on emotionally charged subjects. Some try to do this anonymously and others don’t mind sharing their names for all to see. It’s best to avoid the controversial comments all together. Remember the lesson before this one. Never believe you are truly anonymous or your comments may come back to haunt you one day. There are some great examples in the political arena right now of making this mistake!
- You will be judged by the company you keep – This was always the tough one to believe when you were young. Who I hang out with is my own business! However, if you are trying to establish a self brand – one that is professional, or creative, or charitable – the people you connect should in some ways reflect that. Your contacts on LinkedIn will be reviewed by potential employers or clients. Also don’t forget what you “like” can be seen. That image that you’re trying to create for yourself can be completely derailed if you are constantly “liking” articles or comments that could be considered offensive. On the other hand, you can use those “likes” to reinforce your image by clicking on links and comments that reflect your social media goals – to be an expert in a particular subject perhaps.
- Smile – When walking through a small town, if you met someone in the street, you smiled and said hello. It was quite a culture shock to me when I moved to a city when people did not smile or speak back. In our service training, this is called being approachable. In social media training, we spend a lot of time in creating profiles that reflect your goals. If you want potential employers or clients to see you as approachable, this needs to reflect in your photo. A smiling face on your profile is a terrific way to accomplish that.
This is just a sample of some of the life tips that apply to social media. I’m sure (whether you grew up in a small town or not) you have some of your own. Feel free to share yours in the comment section. It’s a great way to start contributing to this community!
For more information on our social prospecting class, contact me @ [email protected]