I am not a social media expert. Whatever that means. I talk about it. The Social Shift. The impact and opportunity. I can site examples. I live it everyday through blogging, updating, posting, connecting, tweeting, checking in and occasionally checking out. I know it has been a catalyst for growth in my business. I believe it has also been a catalyst for growth in my life. In truth Social Media has been one interesting experiment. I had no idea what was going to happen the first time I Linked In. I was doubtful anyone besides my mom would subscribe to this blog. I could still care less about what anyone I know had for #lunch in 140 characters or less. But I see the transformation . I know this is just the beginning. I like being there. I love being here. Ironically several of my friends (not on Facebook) that used to mock my social curiosity now want to understand how to make the segway into social media for business benefit. So occasionally I find myself sitting across from a friend, fellow Gen X business pro (usually in sales) who two years ago couldn’t fathom a Facebook account but now wants my advice/instruction on how to make the social shift. This morning I will be coffee shopping it to help my friend. He asked me if I could help him “go viral” (any ideas?). Our first sit down will go something like this: 1. Meet me at the coffee shop at 6:45 a.m.: If you want to ever build a following, have an impact, connect consistently then it is clear to me you’ll show up early. Stay late. Put in the work. Yes, it is an investment of time. So, you can cut into sleep or skip American Idol and Dancing With the Stars. Your call. He pushed the meeting to 7:15. 2. Bring me a gift (I don’t work completely pro bono): The idea is to get in the habit of giving value first. Expect nothing in return. Get used to the idea that nobody really cares all that much about you or your stuff. They care a whole lot more about their own stuff. If you can help them with their stuff they might get a bit more interested in your stuff. Especially important to understand this if you are in sales. 3. Go meet a stranger in this coffee shop right now and exchange business cards: Awkward? Of course. Will be a bit amusing for me. Try it sometime. How did you do? Is it all that different online? Think about your approach. Think about the other person. Think about why they should/would connect with or follow you? 4. Give me one good, compelling reason why I shouldn’t get up and walk out of the coffee shop right now (friendship is off limits during the work session and by this time I assume he will be frustrated)? I am distracted. Busy. Overwhelmed. Stressed. 17 other people just like you want to talk to me. I already have one of you that does just fine. I want to get on with my day. If he doesn’t come up with a reason I will seriously consider leaving. Welcome to sales. 5. Write down what you want from this effort? When? How you intend to help others? Why? It pays to begin with the end in mind. That informs strategy and tactics. It pays to determine if you can really help. That informs whether any of this is worth doing if your intention is to build your business. Plenty of other reasons can make social media worthwhile (I heard Farmville is fun). He just needs to decide. He will have some homework. He will set up his accounts. He will retweet. Comment on blogs. Join groups. Pay attention. Then eventually contribute. If he contributes quality consistently, then eventually someone might pay attention back. If he helps people in a BIG way they might be inclined to evangelize his work and tell others. Who knows? Maybe he will Engage, Crush It, Win Friends and Influence People and start a Tribe! I just know he better like this on Facebook. And buy breakfast.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.