To my way of thinking, social media comprises a set of tools people use to shout out to and interact with society in general. It’s creating a false impression that a list of “contacts” or “followers” means “friends” or “business relationships.” I realize it’s a tad different from a direct mail list, but friends? Really? I think common interests are truly a door-opener to starting a relationship, but not a real friendship, until some engagement besides tweets and email occurs.
No matter the age, are we so immersed in digital communication that we fail to have a conversation in person or connect with someone.
The one thing I’ve learned is that I’m not attached to my computer like astronauts to their space vehicles. It’s very important to get up and get away from my desk and actually go talk to someone. That person could become a new (real, not Facebook) friend, the key to your next career move or your next chance to pitch your product or service.
Now that I’m retired and have a non-profit PR agency, it has become very obvious that 90 percent of my initial clients and contacts have reached out to me because of my past efforts in the community. It’s in the community where you establish the trust of your peers.
Have you noticed at meetings that it’s rare to see people having conversations before the meeting starts or during breaks? Seems like almost everyone is staring at their screens or typing on their smart phones, tablets or laptops. Occasionally one of them might glance at you and give you a cursory greeting, but odds are, many “digit-o-philes” won’t even look up. They’re missing out on a lost opportunity to network, learn, bond and enjoy a story or joke. Maybe they’re introverts and this helps them survive in group situations; however, when they’re your own team, it seems nuts to me.
I’m always curious as to what some executives are thinking when they are writing emails or looking at websites during meetings. Or when people have to check their phones while pretending they’re not — and even worse, when clients are in the room. It’s like looking at your watch.
Rude. Rude. Rude.
My point is this: Use social media to promote your products and services and share useful and valuable information, but use your social skills to interact with people face-to-face, grow your network, build trust and be surprised when those efforts pay off.
Al Maag is the founder and principal of MaagCommPlus, a communications consultancy specializing in non-profits. Maag is the author of "Social Media IS NOT Sociable" available on Amazon. This article originated in Forbes by Mr. Maag
Follow him @almaag2