Social media can really put a damper on human interactions. We had just finished dinner at our daughter’s house. The fire was burning in the fireplace and the lights were soft and glowed orange. The four of us had moved away from the table and relaxed on the overstuffed sofas. I looked at my wife, daughter, and son-in-law. They were all buried in their phones, checking out their social media messages and I had nobody to talk to. We have all developed some bad habits as a result of technology but it isn’t too late to fix that situation.
Conversation is becoming obsolete
The truth is that we have come an extremely long way in a relatively short amount of time, technologically speaking. Of course, that is a good thing. It is hard to believe that not too many years ago, it was uncommon to be given a computer at work. At that time, everything was done on paper and, if we were lucky, the computer would supply supporting information for whatever we were working on. Now, people, young and old, don’t know what they would do without relying on some sort of device.
When it comes to social media, in so many ways, it is brilliant and revolutionary. However, that doesn’t mean that human interactions should be sacrificed as a result. Social media is a vehicle that allows you to be creative and to feel comfortable in that creativity. It gives you the opportunity to express yourself in ways that you may not have done before.
Of course, there are still rules of engagement and etiquette guidelines that you must follow. After all, without rules, chaos will generally be the result. However, you probably don’t have too much difficulty respecting the guidelines. On the other hand, sometimes, you may not realize that you have picked up some practices as you are interacting on the various social media channels that you need to eliminate.
It should never be about you or your business directly
Over and over again, you have probably read that your online social relationships will only succeed if you put the other person’s needs and wants before your own. That means that if you start out the conversation addressing the other person’s issues, you stay on topic. You should not allow the conversation to come around to your wants and needs. There will be plenty of time for that to come later.
On a personal level, you may feel that it is unfair to put the other person first 100% of the time. However, when it comes to professional interactions, that is exactly how it should be. What you may not realize is that if you satisfy the needs of the other person, your needs will be satisfied as well.
One thing that you should do regularly is get involved in the discussion. Respond to comments that other people leave on blogs, ask thought-provoking questions, etc. Get involved and stay involved. Your involvement will certainly improve the quality of the interactions and everyone will benefit because of it. Of course, it goes without saying that the content that you are posting should be top-quality and compelling each time that you post it.
Never give them the hard sell
If you have been lucky enough to successfully start to develop a relationship with one of your online connections, be grateful and appreciative. Don’t get greedy because it will not end well. If the person is willing to be a part of your relationship journey, be gracious about it. Let him or her set the boundaries. If you push too much, you may come up empty.
Relationships take time and effort to develop. You should not think that a relationship that is based on business is any different from any other relationship because it is not. It requires the same nurturing, tenderness, and love as all relationships. One of the essential elements in your relationship is trust. If you involve the other person in different ways, he or she will begin to trust you and that will lead to a lasting connection between you.
People love to know that their opinions count. Ask the person what he or she thinks about whatever you are discussing. Go one step further and ask the person if he or she would like to contribute content to your site or to your blog. That will go a long way for you. Truly get involved with the other person. The hard sell is never appropriate, not online and not in person.
Learn how to listen
The fact is that you need to understand your subject matter intimately. However, you also need to know how to listen to the other person. In fact, in many cases, listening is even more important than speaking. Of course, in a relationship, you both get to speak and you both get to listen. Obviously, your relationship must be mutual or it isn’t a true relationship.
Your personal interactions with other people online are critical to your business’ success. Of course, posting content must be one of your top priorities but listening to what other people have to say is another one of your priorities. Learning how to listen, really listen, will help you to provide the content that the other person needs and wants. Without the other person, you will have no direction. You need to establish an emotional/human connection with the other person because he or she needs to be able to relate to you and to what you are saying. If you can accomplish that, you are on your way to solidifying your relationship.
Use your unique voice
Whatever you do, always be there for the other person. We have come way too far to sit around, staring at a screen (large or small), without connecting as human beings. Part of the appeal of being human is that the connections that you have with other people are warm and real.
Each person is unique. Make sure that you highlight your uniqueness and use it to strengthen your relationship with the other person. Your uniqueness (and the other person’s) is what makes your relationship so special. That is precisely why you need to be careful about how much you automate what you are doing and how much you do manually. You can feel free to interact online but remember to do it appropriately and politely.
Social media is here to stay. You will continue interacting online and will only increase your interactions over time. It is important to be introspective and to recognize when you have gotten into bad habits that you need to break. After all, you don’t want to sit around after dinner, staring at a device instead of having exciting human interactions.
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