It’s funny, because when I think of social networking in 2008 and what it means to the web 2.0 crowd, all I see is a bunch of people hiding behind computers with a jpeg for a face, and a keyboard for a mouth. We all fall into that category of course, because our business is based on the computer – but does it have to remain there? I look at someone like Lynn Terry from ClickNewz.com who, whenever she’s attending an industry event, invites her readers to meet up with her for lunch if any of them are local to where the event is happening. Talk about extending yourself and increasing availability – Lynn is connected with some of the top dogs in Internet marketing and still makes it a priority to pow wow with her available readers whenever she’s on the road. I definitely encourage you to extend yourself to your regular blog readers and swap phone numbers. Get acquainted with each other because the relationships we build now are the most important, and going beyond the computer is something I practice as often as possible.
Let’s take a closer look at the term “social networking” a little closer: You have social, or socializing, which is an interaction between 2 or more people without any defined objective or purpose – you’re simply talking for the sake of the moment. On the other end you have networking, which can start off as socializing but eventually will lead to end-goals from that particular conversation. If you caught that last bit, then you will know that the core difference between socializing and networking is the objective or goal – why are you talking to this person? One can argue that every interaction has some sort of objective whether it be to prevent that greasy guy at the bar from approaching you, or to keep your wife occupied while your friend sneaks your golf clubs into his truck – because your wife thinks you have a doctors appointment and your friend is driving you.
Learn to balance the two…
With so many mediums of social networking available on the web, it can become quite challenging to find a healthy balance between the two. One thing I haven’t done yet is download some sort of third party Twitter application like TweetDeck, because I don’t see anything positive coming out of me having access to Twitter every minute of every day. Is it really that important that I respond to tweets or direct messages right away? No. Do I really need to have Skype open all day while I work online? No. If anything of dire importance needs my attention I will either be notified as soon as I log in (literally) or that individual whom I am waiting to hear from will contact me by other means, like phone or personal email. Choose when to be connected and when to skillfully disconnect in order to promote a more productive day.
Unfortunately, most of what we do online in regards to social networking and communication is merely glorified socializing – and that my friends is the ultimate enemy of productivity. When you choose to engage in social interaction, be conscious of the goals and objectives behind that encounter. Why are you talking to this person? If there is a specific reason, make sure it gets addressed within the first 2 minutes of digital conversation and if someone wants to tell you about their trip to the petting zoo, let them know that you can’t chat right now and to send you a brief email telling you all about it. Knowing when you make your exit will greatly improve your online performance, but also set the guidelines for others to know what to expect from you.
Try to encourage more networking and less socializing, and you soon realize how much time you were wasting doing the later. I know it’s hard to not jump on every new micro-blogging platform that enters the market, because we’re all nerds for that type of shit! It’s what we look forward to! Just know when to bow out gracefully if you do happen to indulge on a daily basis. Having an addiction to social networking sites is a serious problem – not only will it potentially cripple your business, but your home life as well, so be careful!