Your agenda is a barrier to true connection.

If you approach the use of social media tools with a clearly defined agenda and looming deadline for results, you’ll find yourself frustrated, invariably.

The more urgent your need to get “something”  from your use social media channels, the less likely you will be to find the results you’re seeking.

Building an online network takes time. Lots. But like anything else in life that takes time, the results are worth it.

If building an online network were dinner, it would be a crockpot stew; the longer your stew simmers, the more wonderful aromas it spreads throughout your home and the more delicious the flavor when you take the first bite.

If building an online network were homebaked bread, it would be a loaf of Amish friendship bread, the one you cultivate over two weeks, stirring and adding daily, before it emerges from the oven, sweet, cinammon-y with melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

If building an online network were a gestating mammal, it would be a sperm whale mama, nurturing and growing her babe for nearly two years before sliding together through the water.

If building an online network were a running event, it would be an ultra marathon, one in which participants prepare for the long haul, getting up long before dawn and continue running, mile after mile, one foot in front of the other. It would be all the days preceding the actual event, unseen and countless miles knocked out in preparation.

If building an online network were a wedding celebration, it would be a long-awaited event, the union of high school sweethearts enduring a long separation and arriving, finally, in a warm embrace.

To be successful in using social media to market your business, grow an audience for a book, or advance your ideas, you must take a long term view, not a shotgun approach.

Be consistent. Regularly showing up is the most important way to build your online presence. Engage, interact, and share value — not once, twice, or every day for two months and then not at all —but every day, month after month, year after year. Every day is a chance to connect and build relationships. While I do regularly unplug for a day or two, and encourage others to do the same, you will be most effective when you show up most of the time.

Give. Approach every interaction with these questions: What value can I share? What can I give? If you are not sure what you can give, consider what you appreciate receiving from others. Can you give credit? Encouragement? Respect? Honor? Love? Knowledge? Can you promote others? Help them reach their goals?

Add value first and add more value than you extract. I think Chris Brogan said this: You must add value before you can extract value. Ideally, you will give and add value long before you ever make an ask of your network. It is for this reason that I rejoice when new authors begin preparing for book launches far in advance. When you begin using social media in the moment that you need something, just in time, like a shotgun wedding, your underlying motivation is as obvious as a baby bump. Everyone knows what brings a pregnant bride to the altar and everyone can see your agenda when you show up needy in online communities.

Tell me something!  What tips do you have for cultivating a long-term approach to using social media? 

photo credit Reunion Underwater photography Aquazimages