On Thursday morning, while waiting for a school bus, I noticed that my Twitter follower count had reached an all time high – 2,500 people honour me by following me on that platform. I shared this with my youngest offspring, who looked at me and said “Why would that many people follow YOU?” Nothing like a teen to ground you! Later, as I waited with another teen for their school bus, I shared their younger sibling’s comment. We had a great discussion about the power of social media and other online platforms. I said even though I’m a digital immigrant I feel like the tools work for me. That teen turned to me and said “That’s because you take the time to learn.”
About 30 minutes later, I sat down to invest time in my social media platforms. I saw a notification from my colleague Elizabeth Nicholas, asking me for my opinion about online networking. When I realized that my response was almost 1000 characters long, I chuckled to myself, and created the draft for this post.
I know that a lot of people in my generation, consider social media and online platforms as questionable sources of information. I’ve read and heard comments from people who believe that social media is a horrible thing. A note to all of those who feel that way, social media algorithms push content onto your feeds based on what you’ve liked, shared or otherwise interacted with. If you regularly comment on and/or share posts with positive messages, then that’s what the majority of your feed will contain.
Marketing maven Steph Jouppien asked on the following on LinkedIn:
“TRUE or FALSE?
Online networking is more effective than in-person networking.”
Elizabeth commented that “… it can actually be true for some people. Especially those who may consider themselves introverted.” and asked me what I thought.
I’d like to expand on what my reply of “it depends."
As an extrovert, with a special interest in leading people, I love face to face meetings and getting to hyper focus my entire attention on people, as I learn who they are and what is important to them. I genuinely enjoy meeting new people. My close friends, colleagues and family know that when we attend an event together, I’m going to wander around and meet new people. When I attend an event solo, I look for the table with the least familiar faces, and ask to join them.
When I attend a large conference, I do the same, looking for tables full of people I don’t know, and don’t generally get a chance to network with. One year at the HRPA Annual Conference, I made a point of finding tables with younger people, because I kept hearing things about “Millennials this, and Millennials that” and I figured the best way to learn more about them would be to seek out tables of Millennials and get to know what they cared about.
I love the flexibility of social media platforms! I’m active on three:
LinkedIn for professional networking and learning;
Facebook for friends, for the occasional post about my business, networking with like minded entrepreneurs in a more informal way than on LinkedIn, and starting this year consciously seeking out and connecting with members of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International); and
Twitter, predominantly as a learning platform. One of my other special interests is Diversity and Inclusion. On Twitter I can follow and learn from people whose lived experiences are vastly different than mine.
Just like sitting at a table full of Millennials at a face to face conference, I can interact with others who have much to teach me on Twitter. The difference being, that on Twitter, we can hold asynchronous conversations that span the globe and all the diversity that is humanity.
I’ve come to feel like several of the people I interact with on Twitter are friends and/or colleagues. I’ve had people reach out and offer advice on projects I’m working on, and others who’ve answered my questions about their lived experiences.
I also use several other learning tools, such as reading books by authors whose experiences are very different from mine, and participating in webinars with like minded people. I learn something new every time I participate in a webinar. I consume content hosted on YouTube and other platforms shared through my professional associations and network. There are so many generous, intelligent people who share their knowledge and advice for FREE online.
This year I’ve had the opportunity to dabble in many other “apps” that are out there!
To the people who feel disconnected during the pandemic, primarily because you can’t safely interact with people the way you're used to, I encourage you to dive in and learn from online content and social media platforms. If you’re concerned about online safety, follow Matt Richardson on his social media platforms. Matt regularly shares tips about how you and your family can stay safe online. It’s his business!
For the first time, I’m going to share what next week’s post will be about. There are two reasons for this. First this weekend my webpage is going to get an overhaul to render it more accessible and I’m not sure how easy it will be for me to access while this is happening. The second reason is I have more to say on creating community using online platforms. The blog would be too long to post all in one week!