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Being Social

§ July 5th, 2011 § Filed under communication, marketing, small business, training, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , § 11 Comments

There’s always a price to be paid for doing, being, and having more, and it has little to do with working harder or knowing the “right” people. In as few words as possible, “get out more.”  – TUT… A Note from the Universe (Mike Dooley)

A few events lately have convinced me that it is time for some comments on social media. This is not designed to be a list of rules. One of the things I love about social media is that it is still in flux. We’re learning “acceptable” behavior as we go along. I’ve come up with a few suggestions, though, and would welcome your comments.

To the extent that you would keep your personal life and work life separate, keep your personal and work social media separate. I have two Facebook pages – one for business and one that is personal. My personal page is primarily a space for connecting with friends, although many of my friends are also business acquaintances. I only become “friends” with people I have actually met (with a few famous exceptions), and all are people whom I would invite to my home.

I started with two Twitter accounts, but am starting to meld those into one.  I accept everyone at LinkedIn, because I view that as a business network only.

I don’t think there should be any rules here, except to think about what your purpose is for the particular social media channel before you start accepting friends, following, and linking. Let that purpose guide you. Just stay civil online and be sure to proofread. Remember who has access when posting your location or any updates.  If your friends have photos of you in compromising positions, well, that’s another whole issue.

Please remember that just because you are good at connecting on social media does not mean that you are sociable. Sometimes the skills that make a person truly excellent at social media are not the skills that make him or her personable or well-mannered. Both venues require a bit of “walking in the other person’s shoes,” but the in-person interaction can be more difficult for people who are introverted. If you feel more comfortable online, you may need to work on your face-to-face manners. Make sure that you smile, make eye contact, act courteously, and follow through on commitments. When you are with someone in person, stop texting and updating, and be present.

Finally, the more social media you participate in, the more you need to connect in real life to balance yourself out. Recently, I joined a new friend for lunch. We initially met through a #BMPR event and started following each other on Twitter. We know each other more based on what we Tweet than an in-person connection. As I approached her, I realized that I was visualizing her name with an @ in front of it.

That’s when you know you have spent too much time online.

What guidelines would you like for social media? Join the conversation – post your comments here.

Decide What You Want

§ April 3rd, 2011 § Filed under communication, marketing, small business, training, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , § No Comments

The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want. – Ben Stein

If you find that you are not receiving responses to your email messages, I may have discovered one of the problems.

I recently met a man who is in charge of volunteers at a local non-profit. I had been planning to volunteer with this organization for the last few months, so this meeting presented the perfect opportunity to offer my training services. I handed him my business card and wrote on the back what I wanted to provide.

Two days later, I received an email from the volunteer director. He said he was glad to have met me and appreciated my interest in the organization. He provided some details about the volunteer opportunities with this non-profit and finished his email by saying that he looked forward to discussing my involvement.

It was obviously a canned response, and although it would have been nice to have received something that responded to my particular offering of providing training, the template aspect did not bother me. What bothered me was that there was no call-to-action. There was no “next step” for me to take. He could have said, “please contact me at your earliest convenience” or “please fill in the volunteer form on our website” or “I will call you next week to set up an appointment.” Instead I was left feeling like we would have to run into each other on the street to move this relationship forward. I wonder how many volunteers are lost because of this missing request.

I shouldn’t give this guy too hard a time. He is not alone. We all send out emails all the time without thinking about what we want to accomplish.

If you want to create email messages that get a response, the most important step you can take is to decide what you want the outcome to be when the recipient reads the email. If you don’t provide your readers with the next step, the email will sit in their in-boxes, unanswered, largely because there was no question to answer.

Look back over some of the emails you have sent. Were you clear in your purpose? Did you ask for the sale? Did you move the process forward? How could you have ended the message that would have made it easy for the recipient to take action?

If you want to learn additional ways to create messages that deliver results, come to this month’s Lunchbox Workshop.

The Tone of Our Discourse

§ January 16th, 2011 § Filed under communication, training, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , § 6 Comments

“At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do, it is important for us to pause a moment and make sure we are talking to each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”  – Barack Obama

Last month, I listed some communication resolutions for 2011. Apparently I don’t have a widespread enough audience yet to reach the entire country. I have listened to friends, acquaintances, newscasters, and pundits explain what happened in Tucson and what the root causes of the problem are. I agree with the President who said that a lack of civility did not cause this tragedy.

The issue of our country’s discourse is a two-pronged one. There is a legal standard. Free speech is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. That means that you have the right to say anything you want. However, throughout history our courts have limited that right. You do not have the right to incite violence. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., wrote:  “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

I am not a fan of Sarah Palin, and I find her response to her perceived attack over this tragedy self-centered and disappointing at best. However, I will defend to my death her right to place gun-site type targets over a map of Congressional districts. I will even defend her right to say things like “Don’t retreat. Reload!”

We now have people who believe that the country is on fire and they need to scream to make sure we all feel the same fear.  I get it. There are those who believe that the country is sliding into socialism or fascism. They are tired of being politically correct.  They are genuinely afraid of what will happen if the health care bill continues to be enacted.  I defend their legal right to be as strident and loud and discourteous as they want.

I do wish, however, they would consider the practical aspect to all this rhetoric. Consider the scenario in the Holmes quote. If you are in a theater that truly is on fire, do you want someone yelling “Fire”? Or would you prefer someone who calmly explains that there is a danger and that you should quickly proceed to the nearest exit?

The second prong is a decency standard.  So much has been said these last few days about the tone in this country. Yes, we all have the legal right to be offensive.  However, just because we have the right to be rude doesn’t mean we should be.

When I hear people say they are “tired of being politically correct,” what I hear is that those people are tired of being polite and do not care if they offend. What is wrong with being more inclusive? Why can’t we use the filters we have been given?

We need to find ways to put across our thoughts and ideas, even those that are passionately held, without insulting others. Engaging our brains before we open our mouths is still sound advice.

So I will repeat my final resolution from last month: resolve to be kinder. As President Obama said in Tucson, “We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us.”

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