By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter
Articles about the attention-depleting aspect of social media abound. I wrote about the potential free-fall you may experience in your value proposition if you try to be everywhere but nowhere, here.
More recently, my concerns have been piqued by the number of conversations that have started, then fallen flat through Twitter, Facebook, Skype, G+ that are hip, edgy, punctuated with the appropriate exclamation points and energizing verbiage that says, “Let’s keep the conversation going; I want to know you better; I care about knowing you. When can we speak by phone/Skype/in-person?”
These off-the-cuff calls to action, like a jolt of coffee, initially entice, but the lack of follow-through and conviction by the inviter or the invited often leaves one or both parties feeling unfulfilled.
The surface exchanges often involve quick quips and lavish loving claims of mutual admiration.
… and then the silence that echos.
Does this sound familiar?
ARE YOU GUILTY, TOO?
Raise your hand if you are the guilty perpetuator of such hollow invitations or the recipient who agrees, but then drops the ball in fulfilling the promise to meet, to write that blog post, to fulfill some collaborative promise.
I’m raising my hand of “guilt” for having participated in unrealized meetings or other commitments. From time to time, the wave of social media friendship pinging and virtual hugging and evocations of “rock star” love is overwhelming. We are drowning, yet we refuse the life raft.
In recent months, I’ve been intentionally aspiring to tame the social networking beast from my office here on the banks of Lake Texoma.
Part of my change initiative has been to slow down a bit, focus, concentrate on tasks at hand, whittle down lists, say “no” more (or at least say, “no, not right now”), say “yes” less but when I do say, “yes,” offer it up with greater intention, commitment and follow-through.
Like someone trying to whip into shape an untended, poorly fueled, flabby body, revamping one’s social networking and etiquette behavior and demeanor may require execution of a long-term, strategic plan. It may require methodical action steps and deeply focused periods of concentration — in short, a lot of work.
RECLAIM YOUR REPUTATION (Here are a few ideas ‘how’):
- Turn off social media sites for 45-minute blocks of time and focus on a single task at hand. Use a ticking timer to hold yourself accountable. Don’t look at a single Tweet or Facebook post until that timer dings.
- Turn off social media sites for 2-hour blocks of time to deepen your concentration, to get “in-the-flow,” if you will and provide your project at hand the attention and depth of thought it deserves — resulting in higher quality results and deliverables, particularly if chipping away at a complex project.
- Ensure you have at least one calendar free of cluttered to-dos and commit that white space only to scheduled meetings: whether with clients, colleagues, partners or potential relationships. Make it glimpse-able and easy to review on a daily and weekly basis.
- When scheduling a catch-up chat with a friend/colleague, leave the option to reschedule open (as long as you provide one another 24 hours courtesy notice). Most business-savvy people realize the ebb and flow of deadlines and client commitments. Respect that.
- Prioritize your to-dos daily. At the end of the day, write out the top 5 items that MUST be attended to the next day–those drop-dead deadlines and/or promises. Address at least 1-2 of those to-dos first thing in the morning, before you immerse yourself into the social media ocean.
- If you find yourself canceling more meetings than you are keeping, then re-think your strategy, including saying no “even more,” and / or evaluating your vetting process. It’s okay to determine that you are being too nice with your time, that you need to focus more on revenue-rewarding initiatives and less on hanging on to or inviting in relationships and partnerships that suck your time and energy.
- As well, if you are canceling more often than keeping, or, you are keeping meetings but then unable to avail your complete energy to your meeting partners, consider whether your behavior is bordering on flaky, as in you are always looking for the bigger, better opportunity and dumping less-enticing promises for the potential limelight of a “new” opportunity.
- All that said, be open, not rigid, to new shoots of growth opportunity, whether it be to meet a new individual or team of people outside your normal comfort zone. Try new things; just remember to factor in your already firmed up engagements and deadlines when weaving these new threads into your already tightly woven meeting and commitment fabric.
- No easy answer exists as how to wrangle social networking communications. However, my instincts tell me, that like everything good in life and business, quality trumps speed; quality trumps quantity; promises are made to be kept. Too many of us (me included) get sidetracked or derailed from time to time thinking if we are not everywhere all the time, then we do not exist.
MAINTAIN YOUR CREDIBILITY
Quite frankly, it seems just the opposite, we spread ourselves so thin that we lose credibility and our reputation for quality, thoughtful input suffers.
As for me, I will continue my daily tweeting, regular Facebook posting, intermittent Googe+ interacting, LinkedIn communicating, and now “engaging” on Pinterest from time to time, but I will do it judiciously, and with continued greater deliberation.
I am curious of others’ ideas for managing their commitments, focusing their time and behaving with the highest levels of business and personal integrity as possible despite the threatening disruption caused by the tsunami of social media.