Some people get nervous about connecting through social media, especially when jumping into a new network. Or, sometimes people are perfectly fine representing themselves but are terrified by the thought of representing their company online.
As a marketing and PR professional, I see it all the time working with my clients on social media strategy. But it never ceases to surprise me.
Sure, it can feel daunting, and there are a lot of fears about “doing it right” and not looking like the imposter you feel you are. But the truth is, the rules for social networking are a lot like the rest of life. People are people. In fact, technical information aside, you learned all you need to succeed in kindergarten.
Just like in kindergarten, the best way to make friends in social networks is to be generous. Share good content when you find it. Share the bloggers and industry experts you respect. Share conversation with other people in your network when something catches your eye. Retweet, Favorite and Like your heart out. Both the people you promote and the people you share it with will be grateful, and over time you’ll build a niche expertise on the topics you focus on.
Show and tell
There is also a time and a place to show what’s special to you, whether it’s a new project you’re proud of or your new space cowboy action figure. After all, it’s no secret that most serious networkers online are so engaged because they have something they want to grow. A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule—keep your self-promotion to less than 20 percent of your content.
Be true to yourself
You want to wear a tutu to school, or wear your underwear on your head? Rock on, friend. Whether you’re a serious news fiend or have a love for photography or have a snarky sense of humor, there’s room to share that online. A major book addict, I plugged my goodreads reading list into my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.
Sharing your passions and quirks shows that you are a genuine, multidimensional person. Who doesn’t love that? People you don’t want to waste your time on, that’s who.
If you can’t say something nice …
Sure, some people make a splash and get ahead through controversial rants. But their negativity is noted. They may get talked about, but these types burn more bridges than they build. Just like anywhere else in life, the Internet is a place to spread the love, and not the place to run around knocking down other kids’ block towers.
Coloring inside the lines is overrated
Right, you meant for that tree’s green leaves to bleed into the sky a little. And you want your dog to be blue? Sure, why not.
One of the coolest things about the Internet is its open-ended potential. Want to start your own business? Share your art? Test out a new model for your industry? Do it. The Internet is what we make it. It’s okay to get a little messy and try something new. Just check out Seth Godin’s interview about the future for artists.
See? Not scary at all, is it? You already have all you need to build your social network. The rules that will help you success online are ones you’ve already been living by your whole life.