I am not talking about being a Facebook voyeur or tweeting your breakfast choice or posting your morning Periscope, though those are now a part of being social in our society today. I am talking about getting out there and making personal connections. This doesn’t have to be exclusively through face to face interactions, it can be through email, chat, texting, WhatsApp or SnapChat. But it should be a one on one interaction versus a general broadcast. The feedback loop is important to make a connection stick or an interaction meaningful. Being social allows us to learn something new, feel connected to another individual, share something or accomplish something. None of us can accomplish our dreams, goals or fulfill our aspirations alone. It takes our network of friends and colleagues for us to do it. Being social is not just about our personal friends or work colleagues. It is both and I encourage you to mix them together whenever you can.
Say Thank You
One of my favorite ways to be social is to send a Thank You note to a colleague, friend or an employee. That simple note will solidify a connection more than almost anything else you can do. Taking the purposeful time to recognize someone’s effort is one of the biggest compliments you can pay. Saying thank you will come back to you in spades, often in ways we could not have anticipated.
I have heard over and over again “Why doesn’t so and so every include me”. I have struggled with this in my own right and not too long ago came to the conclusion — Who Cares! If you are always the initiator of a relationship and you find value in that relationship, than why do you care that you are always the initiator? One way to tackle this is to schedule preset meetings so you know you have time on the calendar to connect. This will take away the guilt of how the relationship is maintained and allow to focus on cultivating the value from it.
Put Yourself Out There
Not long ago I was doing some research for work and found myself stuck. I wanted to know what other companies have potentially dealt with the issues I was facing and through a bit of Googling, I was able to connect to a peer at a different company whom I never have met. By reaching out via LinkedIn and stating my ask and why I wanted to connect, I was able to leverage the knowledge of someone who had tackled a similar problem to mine. The outcome was a lasting relationship that we can both leverage well into the future.
Fire on all your Channels
Think about your social network strategically. Where do you get the biggest value? How can you passively and actively stay connected? How often do you maintain your network? These are questions that I am constantly asking and the answers vary day to day as life pulls me in different directions. For me, I leverage my passive social channels (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Goolge+, Text, Email and Pinterest) to keep my network abreast of things I am thinking about or that I am simply thinking of them. I always have a coffee, happy hour, or workout partner on the calendar. Finally, I typically participate in a networking group event on a monthly basis. You have to find the tools and create the habits to stay engaged. Over time I have created this framework for myself and it works. Recently, I read an article by James Altucher where he stated “Accept Imperfection”. By allowing yourself to know going in that you will be imperfect as you build out your social network, you give yourself permission to have failures.
One of my favorite interactions thus far this year has to be receiving an invite to a Birthday Party. This is from an old colleague who I have stayed connected with via social media channels, but have not seen in years. She wanted to see her friends face to face and created an Open House event to celebrate her birthday. I am looking forward to going and reconnecting with some old friends.