Last week I introduced the idea of being human when communicating socially. Here are some further thoughts on HOW to be human. It's really quite simple, but I think we all get caught up in the demands of our business lives and forget about the basics of meaningful communication.
1. Be Open. Whether we are speaking face to face or sharing thoughts on LinkedIn or writing a blog, it is always possible to see when someone is hiding something. Either a question is ignored or the answer swerves in a different direction or the elephant in the room is completely ignored. Honesty is the currency of the social web. This is not an original thought on my part, but I do believe that integrity is the MOST important attribute for any business person.
2. Use pictures. They do speak a thousand words. When you create your profile, include your picture. Social media is about humanizing web communication. Don't you want to know who you are talking to? If you were on an internet dating site, would you respond to the person who didn't post a picture? And, it's not only about pictures of yourself, use diagrams, graphics or pictures to enhance your story and reinforce the important bits. It's amazing to see the rise of info graphics across the web. Why are they so popular? Because they capture and share pertinent information in an easily consumable (and shareable) format.
3. Post Engaging Content. For some, this is the most challenging. Who is to say what content is the most engaging. However, think about the needs of your audience and how the information they crave. Present the content in a human manner. We are not all technicians or experts in every field. Share information in easily consumable chunks. Make it real through real life examples.
4. Don't sell. This might be the most important aspect of social media. While the goal may be to create more leads, there is nothing more distasteful than a hard sell (in person or online!). I'm interested in understanding what makes a company tick. I'm interested in their application of their solutions in business situations. I'm interested in how they collaborate with partners or customers to create value. I'm curious about the trends that are influencing their product roadmap. I can read their website to understand the feature / functionality of their products. I can talk to their sales reps about special deals. I don't need a sales pitch on Twitter!
5. Listen. I've said this before and will continue to repeat myself. There is a LOT of fantastic information being shared by peers, partners, customers and competitors. It is important to take the time to listen and assess. It might change the way your business moves forward. I listen to social media experts; IT, broadcast & media pundits. I follow many blogs, eagerly review LinkedIn updates and connect the dots across the technology industry. What about you?
We are human yet sometimes we forget to act as humans when we are in business situations. Business, at its core, is about relationships. While I'm not promoting intimacy of a personal nature, business intimacy comes from finding common ground, delivering reliability and earning trust. The same skills that have been used in face to face dinners and golf outings also apply in the social world.
What's your perspective?