Okay, I will admit to being technically challenged, and that the computer and Internet are only my friends if I have a human life raft to reach out to! However, being connected and connecting others is my life’s work. At the end of the day, it’s all we have. Did you reach out to anyone today and make their day a little brighter with your presence? Did you bring a little sunshine into anyone’s life? Did anyone bring some to yours?
It is so easy these days to be connected, next-door or across the ocean. A simple click sends our thoughts to the far corners of the globe and lets our loved ones know we care about them. So if it truly is this easy – and I believe it is – why don’t we do it more often? Or for those of you who do, why don’t we do it more efficiently or with more purpose? I think we do it without thinking. We just click and send, and off go our messages.
On several occasions in 2011, I wrote about how people feel less connected to each other and, quite frankly, less connected to anything! Sitting at a traffic light this week, I noticed a bumper sticker that read, “I love my country but it may be time to start seeing other people.” I’m not at all surprised someone created it – perhaps some lonely soul, or the voice of someone expressing the views of millions, or even billions, of lost or unconnected people.
We read and hear every day about closings, downsizings, layoffs, foreclosures, bankruptcies, tragedy and mayhem. It’s everywhere like never before, certainly not in my lifetime. So why do we still feel so isolated? There is a proliferation of online ways to connect or even find the love of your life! If you don’t believe me, ask your friends, or log onto Match.com (or any other such site) and see for yourself. We’re busy, we’re frustrated, and we’re too broke or disinterested to hang out in bars hoping to meet Mr. or Miss Right – we have a better statistical chance of hitting the lottery! Maybe we feel too isolated in our suffering that no one will understand or want to hear our drama. I’m certain the answers lie in a combination of all the above and some I don’t know.
My challenge to all of you is, as you start 2012 and make New Year’s resolutions and commit that this is going to be your “break-out year,” start by effectively using your social media connections in a more positive, productive way. We all know that Facebook is more for personal use, and many folks use this medium to post pictures and keep each other up-to-date on their daily activities. For me, it truly is too time-consuming and challenging. All I know about “cut and paste” is how to spell them! I see my friends and associates using Facebook to promote their businesses. While one could argue that all publicity is good, there are better uses of time, as well as other media, like LinkedIn, that would be a much better outlet.
Since LinkedIn is my platform of choice, let me share some advice. While I profess to having over 1,000 LinkedIn connections all over the world, I can also say that I have personally reached out to connect with each one. Nothing mystifies me more than sending or receiving a request to connect, and never hearing from that person again! Come on, folks! Look for the purpose of your connection. Is this person someone who can add value to your business or life?
Let’s go back to the age of civility, when we said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘how may I help.’ Don’t reach out just for the sake of being connected or to achieve bragging rights to 500-plus contacts! If you are truly interested in connecting with someone, tell them why, invite them for coffee, establish some online correspondence. At the very least, thank them for accepting your connection or for reaching out to you. Please acknowledge the time and effort they put into looking at your profile and feeling compelled to reach out to you.
I believe there are no mistakes in life. Your challenge, in 2012 and beyond, is to see the purpose in life’s daily events. When opportunity presents itself, what will you do with it? Will you even recognize it?
Now, go back to all your LinkedIn or Facebook or Meetup contacts and introduce yourself! Do it now, do it today – just do it! “Better late than never,” the saying goes. Eat some crow and say, “I was going through my contacts and noticed I never reached out to meet you.” How hard is that? You have my word that by doing that, at the very least you’ll add more “friends” to your Rolodex this year. And who knows, maybe you’ll just increase your bottom line!
Connect with me on LinkedIn.