The holidays have come and gone – and 2009 starts a new year full of resolutions and hope to do things differently, to make changes – subtle and dramatic alike. We have all spent time with family and friends and connected with each other in ways that we typically don’t over the regular work-a-day rest of the year. We took time to laugh and love, time to send well wishes and share experiences with each other. Now as we turn back to our routines it is time to take a kernel of these experiences with us and apply them to how we conduct our lives and work to keep the connections alive.
Through social media, we have the ability and tools to truly engage with others –personally and professionally but the true power lies within us to make use of these tools in meaningful ways. In the coming year, here are some suggestions for how to connect the dots of human interactions using social media to keep your relationships vibrant and, well, connected.
1) Send a personal note to the people who you are connected to on LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, Xing or wherever. You connected with them for a reason – they are a colleague, a mentor, a staff member past or present. Don’t wait until you need a job or a sales lead to connect with them. Instead, perhaps once a month, choose 1 or 2 people on that list and send them a quick touch base email or call them just to say hello and catch up.
2) Prune your connections like you prune your holiday card list. As you scan the list of connections on the various social media sites, if you realize that you have no reason to be connected with them anymore or can’t recall why you are connected to them, take the time to clean up the grouping of people. Your connections should be a meaningful collection as it reflects on you. Last year and before, the rule of engagement around social networking were certainly unclear – so it is likely we all accepted connection requests from people who we wouldn’t want to connect with in real life. So let’s make our social media connections really reflect who we are.
3) Make a contribution to a network you belong to. Everyone has something to add to the conversation and a few minutes in a week to aid a colleague with something you know. The gift of knowledge is a gift worth giving. Take some time to participate in responding to someone’s request for help online – Yahoo answers, discussion forums, etc. are a great way to help another out without looking for something in return.
4) Reach out to someone you would like to know. We have all read an article or blog post online and thought “Wow! That is great.” Without social media, typically the risk was too high to reach out to them by phone – not to mention potentially awkward. But with social media tools, you can reach out and make their day! Leave them a comment on the blog or use the contact information typically listed in the footnote to share your thoughts or appreciation. They may or may not respond, but you can be certain that they will read and appreciate your sentiments. The worse thing that happens is that you form an interesting new connection based on like-mindedness.
5) Add a human face to your online profile. Who doesn’t have a digital camera and the ability to take and upload a photo of themselves online. As the technology tools abound, our identities are becoming more digitized and in some cases impersonal. Adding a photo and a human voice to your online profiles can help make you more accessible to connect with. The age of the formal bio and headshot are now reserved for the corporate website, and certainly still have a place in that context, but the ability to bring your online persona to life is more important than ever. Log into your online communities and networks and breathe some life into who you are.
These are some simple ways to start 2009 off with practical steps to using social media to keep your connections alive and well. Happy New Year everyone – Cheers to the year of connecting!Thank you for reading Building Online Communities for Business by Leader Networks. We are a research and strategy consulting company that helps organizations succeed in social business and B2B online community building.
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