The power of social media is the ability to form real connections.
Real connections happen when we initiate with others; they respond; we have real conversations, offline or on. There is an added depth when we take conversations offline, even more when we meet people face to face.
Real connections CAN begin in 140 characters volleyed back and forth, synchronous or asynchronous.
I love the instant gratification of sharing tweets in the moment, when you hardly have time to hit the “enter” key and you see another reply is waiting. Those quick conversations are a way to make friends fast; they can be the start of something good that can grow deeper with time.
My friendship with Erin Schreyer began that way, on the evening that we discovered at least fifteen things we have in common, including the years we attended college on same college campus.
A few well asked questions, a few life details shared: a connection grows.
We don’t have to talk on the phone, share emails, or meet in person to have a real connection.
If we want to build rich, deep relationships, we need to allow others to see who we are. We also need to take the time to see others clearly, as they are.
The best way to deepen and enrich your relationships with others is to give people a glimpse into your life. This is true for relationships started through social media channels and it’s true in our face to face relationships.
Here are some ideas of ways you can let people see who you are:
Share pictures. One reason Facebook is such a powerful platform is because of the sharing of photos. I can see your family gatherings, your recent vacation, your child’s first day of school, your pets, your home. I love moving Twitter friendships to Facebook so that I can share photos easily.
To build an even stronger connection, consider doing what my friend Thabo does: send pictures directly.
An unforgettable moment that deepened my friendship with Thabo: late one afternoon, he sent me an email. I had been working, head down, fast-paced, all day.
When I opened his email, which included words of encouragement, I saw a picture of his evening routine at home in South Africa: candles, a view of his yard with lush emerald trees, a fence and a pool beyond. In that moment, he transported me from where I was to somewhere else entirely. In that moment, he brought me to where he was.
Share stories. Stories are a powerful way to let people see into your life. You can share them in writing or in conversation. When you do, you will help people know you better.
Share real moments. Just yesterday, I had a Skype conversation with David Greer. A few minutes into our conversation, my youngest daughter burst into my office. She sat down squarely in her small white chair and demanded my attention. I asked David to hold on for a moment and shifted my attention to her.
She had just come in from outside. She was cold and she wanted to go back out. She didn’t want the sitter to help her get warmer clothes. She shrieked “no” — several times. She hid in my closet and refused to budge.
I was acutely aware of David on the line, listening to our exchange.
Though we weren’t using video Skype, those moments allowed David to see me in three-dimensions, uncensored, as I am.
As you seek to build real connections, look for ways to let others into your life, to let them see you as you are. Invite them to share their lives with you, as well.
Tell me something! What ways do you share your life with others? How can do you allow others glimpses into your life? What is your favorite way to take online relationships offline?
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.
Agree! Starting out, I was “afraid” to do share even who I was. Part of the reason was I wasn’t sure how the blog would unfold, and part of the reason was I wasn’t sure how my personal brand would work with my “company” brand. I have worked through both of those and have shared much more over time.
Social media needs to be treated like any community. It needs to be approached more as a verb than a noun; it needs to be engaged, not maintained.
Enjoyed your post! Thanks!
The way that I use social media is a reflection of how I live. It’s not all work, all play or all personal. It’s always a mix of them.
Some people only want uplifting stuff. Others want funny stuff. Still others want facts and gems that I find. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, it’s just not enough.
Yes, I want that too. But most of all, I want to engage with people who are willing to risk being real with me.
I share the good, the bad and everything in between. Some of it, I may not even be really proud of, but it’s part of living life, so it’s fair game for me.
For those that follow me just to get a follow back — they’re going to be disappointed. It doesn’t work like that. I follow people I hold in high regard and engage with (not necessarily in that order either).
The opportunity to meet and really relate to people that you may have never met in the course of ones life because of the access social media provides is a tremendous opportunity. But that requires people to go beyond the entertainment factor and take a risk. It’s surprisingly rare, but wonderful when discovered.
What can you do to take that first step *today*? I’ve already taken a few and will take a few more by the time you’re done reading.
Come jump in and have some fun. The water is just fine… 🙂
Happy to know your youngest child is as strong willed as mine. I proudly wear my badge of honor: “The meanest Mommy in the whole world.” It is balanced by my other badge: “The most needed Mommy in the whole wide world.”
P.S. – I gave up talking on the phone, that’s just too much “real” for anyone. 🙂
Wonderful article. Loved your points on sharing photos, and agree with Jon’s in regard to deciding how you want the personal and business yous to mingle.
I do agree that some personality helps the development of both brand and personal growth. But not all that is personal will enhance your business. It’s necessary to plan how you intend the two dimensions to coincide, lest one influence the other in ways you did not intend and don’t want.
Becky, well done. Again. 🙂
I agree with the points that you made and have had wonderful Skype chats, phone conversations and even face to face visits with some of my (now) very dear social media connections. These relationships add immeasurably to the quality of my life and to my business.
Thanks for sharing the link to this post!
Really agree with you that sharing yourself is important. Terrifying but important. 😉
Funny story about pictures. I used my isight camera to take the picture I use for my profiles. Immediately after that the camera quit working! Don’t know what that says about my mug, but I thought it was funny.
It’s coming up on springtime so pretty soon it’ll stop raining so much and I’ll be able to get outside and do some picture taking. Looking forward to that, as my FB site has no pictures on it yet. Gonna fix that this spring and summer.
Anyway, I really do believe that being real and sharing out of my life is necessary if I want to make good connections — and that’s why I’m here.
Becky, thanks so much for including me as an example. I, too, find myself sharing the story of how we met…and how, today, I genuinely consider you a friend!!
I love being able to send a quick tweet to see how you are or to ask about the girls or to provide a simple encouragement on a busy day.
Indeed, there is a LOT of meaningful dialogue and connection that can happen in 140 characters or less!!!
Thanks for being part of my social media world, my friend!
Great post (as always), Becky! One of the key points to emphasize is transparency. Kouzes & Posner say in The Leadership Challenge that leaders go first – which may require a leader to initiate a conversation, share a bit about him/herself personally & professionally. I often hear mixed opinions about having a business persona separate from a personal persona (does that make sense?) To me, a transparent, authentic leader is one and the same — he or she does not live by one set of values and work by a different set.
Authenticity, credibility, and trust crumble when a leader is unwilling or unable to allow others to see what’s inside.
What a brilliant writer you are Becky! John and I just found your blog today and are so glad we did.
I love the point you make in this post about being real. It’s the only authentic way to build relationships. Good thing since real is the only way I know how to be : ) I just shared my own story with the world yesterday. Warts and all LOL!
Looking forward to coming back to your blog over and over.