Social media. Yes, it is fashionable right now. But could this just be (… gasp!) A passing fad? Will we continue to tweet in 2015? Will Facebook and LinkedIn still be popular five, four, or even two years from now? Or have we gone on to something completely different? In addition to the compromised security issues and other well-documented misuse associated with some of these sites, there are other troublesome aspects of social media right now that no one seems to mention.
When you are in business, you are expected to be outgoing, friendly, outgoing, and socially well connected. Hence the success of social networking sites.
However, not all of us in business are naturally like that. Some of us struggle with shyness, stage fright, fear of public speaking, and the burden of competing with the competition. For those of us with such attributes, we also have social media sites, where we can pretend To be everything we are not Outgoing, friendly, outgoing and socially well connected.
The problem arises when we are faced with the inevitable, you should call it, “insult” – the 50% chance that someone will decline our invitation to connect, ignore our request for a professional recommendation, or worse, say something negative about us in a tweet or blog comment.
As in life, adults with normal thinking are supposed to have the ability to ignore incidents as meaningless and move on to more important things. Sticks and stones, etc.
Unfortunately, I happen to be a person who takes everything seriously. As ridiculous as it may sound, my “feelings” are easily hurt and I mean why would someone not want to be my “friend” even though I am naturally lonely.
But I must admit that I am as guilty as anyone else in spreading my own insults on social media. Every time someone I’ve done business with invites me to connect on LinkedIn, I have to weigh whether connecting is a smart move for my other business relationships. If the new invite is from a vendor, I try to keep those sources more discreet in case my clients decide to shop around for better prices while snooping on my LinkedIn page. And if I connect to one provider, shouldn’t I connect to all providers, some of which I can choose not to continue using for a variety of reasons?
I have noticed that there is an option on LinkedIn, as there is on Facebook and Twitter, where you can break the ties of your connection, follower or “friendship” which I imagine must be the ultimate insult (not having personally borne that burden yet)!
I recently invited a client of mine to connect on LinkedIn only to immediately regret and agonize over what now seemed to be our questionable relationship during the eternally long week it took her to respond. Although I was giddy with relief when she finally agreed, I re-examined the entire episode as possibly a risk to a stable business relationship. With that experience fresh in my mind, I was wondering if social media is all that it seems. For me, as I examine her other connections, many of which are my competition, it becomes a matter of worrying about the permanence of my value to her … but I guess that’s a constant when you’re in business. It is much more threatening when it is so blatantly visible. I guess it should be an honor to be in such impressive company.
One of my attorney clients recently asked me to set it up on LinkedIn, which I had done for him on other professional networking sites. For starters, this involved uploading your cropped and appropriately sized photo, presenting your entire career of accomplishments in the appropriate category templates, and choosing the correct preferences for your public persona. While the average person is expected to do these things on their own, someone with limited computer skills, conscience, and time may find this to be an overwhelming challenge. Even for me, sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to get things to display correctly. In any case, I confirmed that everything was set up, briefly explained what LinkedIn was all about, and invited him to connect with me for his first connection. He sent me an email saying “ok” and that was the last I heard from him. I’m not worried about our relationship, which goes back about twenty years. Rather, I attribute this to not “getting” LinkedIn … as many of my other clients also “don’t understand” Twitter or Facebook.
And I can’t say that I blame them. Recently, I refused to befriend someone on Facebook, as I always do, out of fear that something we might say could end up tarnishing my personal Google results, which is why I’ve worked so hard to stay positive in every way. for commercial reasons. Since these Facebook invites often end up in my spam filter, if I weren’t such an attentive email reviewer, I would miss them. Therefore, I generally don’t go out of my way to answer, nor do I “accept” or “ignore.” But if the invitation is from someone important in my life, I try to send an email explaining my position so they don’t get offended.
But what world do we live in now! Having to take precious time to politely decline or guiltily ignore invitations from any number of social websites where the time spent is generally classified as wasted time for the most part. Despite all the hours I’ve spent creating clever tweets on one of several Twitter accounts I started, the most I can show is a negligible number of “followers” who are obviously after me to buy something from them. Yes, I realize that many smart tweeters resort to purchasing programs or services that provide thousands of followers to avoid the embarrassment of only having 22 followers, for example, all of which are nothing more than spam or pornography!
However, I do recognize the benefits of a good LinkedIn presence, which has served me well and is one of the strongest search results for my name on Google. That’s a good thing, as is the strong Twitter links, which I explain to my clients who may not fully understand SEO (search engine optimization).
My attitude reminds me of something a fellow investor told me during the dot-com boom at the turn of the century, that selling items from the sock drawer was hardly a good future for eBay. Here we are, more than a decade later, with eBay as one of the main forces in the Internet universe. All it tells me is that anything is possible. “Hey, you never know!”
However, I still avoid Facebook for my business entirely, even though I get a constant barrage of invitations and reminders from them. And I realize that the whole world is on Facebook and it is equally powerful in Google search results. I’m just not comfortable with it breathing down my neck, coveting my email accounts, and trying to trick me into spilling some personal secret that I might not be interested in sharing on my Google results for the rest of my existence.
Okay, if he’s still around in a couple of years, chances are I’ve joined the crowd by then. But until that happens … I will be cautiously judicious. My time is too precious at the moment.