The past week has been a busy one at exUrban Inc. As a result I blew last week’s deadline for publishing to this blog. One thing that took a bunch of time was my effort to overcome my own social media anxiety. Now, I probably shouldn’t admit this in public, and certainly not to people who might be reading this blog in the interest of working with exUrban Inc. Yet, honesty is one of the traits on which I pride myself, and to be completely honest, social media can be mildly anxiety producing — though beyond the glow of my monitor, I’m not at all socially anxious.
For one, in the social media space, you are putting yourself out there on a daily basis, and let’s face it, we want people to like us and to like what we say, or write. Second, social media blurs the line between the personal and the professional in ways that are really remarkable. The personal becomes public, and the public is personal. Since I got onto Twitter before I started this company my tweets tend to be truly of the micro-blogging variety — observations about the world, weather, running, and some mention of my business when appropriate. I’m not one to put out constant tweets about my company because we’re still in start-up mode and though it’s possible to be a shameless self promoter on Twitter, and other social communities, that’s not my, or our, style (I’m exUrban Inc’s Twitterer, though I’m working on Nancy).
My general approach to social media is to be myself, to demonstrate a variety of interests, and over time expose enough of myself to the world (but not too much, I still do value privacy and will not put pictures of my kids into the public, for a totally personal example) that people will come to trust me and perhaps recommend me and/or look to work with me. I haven’t proven yet that this works, though I have recently met with a Twitter acquaintance in the real world and hope to meet with more in the future.
Such meetings don’t need to be for my profit or theirs though connections initiated in the virtual space of a social media community yield interesting opportunities. It’s what happens when humans come together. One major thing to keep in mind is that what you are doing on places like Twitter is creating real relationships that require nurturing over time. Just as in the real world, you can’t have a relationship with everybody you know, but pick out some interesting folks with whom you are connected and work on building rapport. Be yourself. Be honest. Be polite and respectful of others (just like in the physical world). Put your picture on your accounts, let people know there is a person back there. Finally, remember that these things cannot be rushed and require effort. Be patient. Define what you want from the medium and work to achieve these goals by focusing on communication, sharing and openness.
Thanks to the folks I follow on Twitter for imparting these lessons to me.