Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You Can't Play in the Social Media Sandbox Alone

I could also call this post "what I learned at the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged retreat that will make me a better business woman."
Actually, what I learned will have to span several blog posts and a few articles in upcoming issues of NWAB2B. The experience was incredible.

This post is about the sandbox...
When we were kids the sandbox was a big outside place where everyone was welcome to dig sand and pile up sand and earth-move sand as long you played nice. The sandbox police were never far away-- playground moms on the bench who kept one eye on your gingham-checked back.

Now we've all grown up to be writers and lawyers and business owners with our namesake shingles hung out on the eaves. (Some, I must say, are still moving dirt.)

It dawned on me after this conference that social media is our grown up sandbox. And while we are plinking away at our posts and tweets and such, we are alone at the keyboard.

And that brings me to B2B Bingo. Business ownership can be a very solitary endeavor. As a writer, I spend hours and hours alone, away from the crowds, writing, editing, designing... thinking about what to write, edit and design. As a business owner, you probably spend hours and hours away from the crowds doing what you do, too.

Since more small business owners are gravitating to social media as an integral part of marketing their business, it also hit me like a Tonka truck that business owners need to get out there and BE social to really be social. To make your business experience relevant to your customers, you need to widen your perspectives.

If you're still with me, here are the four trinkets I dug up about that.

1. Get out of your comfort zone. You'll understand the diverse worlds of your customers better if you'll take the time to step out of your own sandbox and into another's. Step out of your own networking mud rut to network elsewhere -- in another city, at another Chamber of Commerce, with another industry you know nothing about. Go to an event you wouldn't normally attend: a NASCAR race, a community play, a fundraiser at an event you've never heard of, a church you pass on the way to the office every day.

2. Make time to connect. Now that you are a stranger in a strange land, introduce yourself to the people you don't know. Connecting is about turning strangers into acquaintances and then into friends. Conversations are about listening without bias, about letting the words sink in and take root. It's not about rehearsing your elevator speech in your head while you are waiting your turn.

3. Take notes. You can't rely on your memory to keep it all straight. Take field notes. Carry a pocket pad so you can jot down the things people say or do that strike you. Let the experience have your full attention, with imagery and meaning.

4. Follow up. It might be a Tweet or a mention in blog post. It may be an invitation to lunch or a hand-written note. It could be a picture you post at the office or a story you share with your peers. Whatever form your follow up takes, take time to let that someone know they touched you.

The players in the social sandbox of life are deep and diverse. Get out and dig.

Born and raised in Florida with sandspurs between bare toes, Janie Clark has a casual style and sharp wit that gives warmth to her writing no matter the topic. She is now an Ozark "Arkansasian" in a writer-artist community in the Northwest Arkansas Ozark Mountains. Degreed in Business, Advertising and Journalism, Janie favored the more creative side of writing after graduation. Writing for rock and roll magazines, jazz radio and news tabloids led her to meet and write about many intriguing souls.  She has published more than three thousand articles, designed dozens of magazines, and is working on a murder mystery (still!). She publishes NWAB2B and GreenZineAR digital magazines. Visit her blog B2B Bingo.

1 comment:

  1. wow nice blog and i like this article YouTube is the video-sharing site that almost everyone has seen. The videos are shared online, the key words are added so that people can search for these terms or the Socialkik title.