I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking about social media and how to best use them in a consultative selling context. What social media and consultative selling have in common is that both succeed via relationship-building.
Everything I’ve learned to date says that, if you do social media like you do other media, you become like that guy at the networking event who only looks you in the nametag, brags incessantly, and sticks around only long enough to find out if there’s something you can do for him. At a face-to-face networking event, most of us just roll our eyes and steer clear of “that guy”. At the ongoing on-line networking event we all step in and out of daily, all kinds of folks are eagerly awaiting the chance to tell that guy, or anybody for that matter how much he sucks, in capital letters. Either way, traditional social graces sometimes appear to be lacking from social media.
Some sites that were originally created to serve a personal function are now being used for business applications. I came to Facebook late and primarily at the request of a friend (with semi–absent high school and college kids) who wanted me where she could see me (preferably where she sees her kids). Having recently moved across the country, I find it’s a great way to keep in touch. I’ve done enough quizzes there to know what 60s rock star I am, what my ya-ya name is and the decade in which I would be most at home. It has also reconnected me with friends I haven’t seen since high school, which trust me is longer ago than I typically admit to professional colleagues.
Using social media professionally isn’t what scares me. I know how to tweet, join a twibe, create a Facebook page and populate it with content. What concerns me is the inevitable possibility that my personal Facebook page and my company’s professional presence “meet up”. Because I got to Facebook first socially, I have content there that I might not share with everyone I work with and people there whose comments I might not necessarily share at work. Thus I view this in the same way a somewhat flabby and very pale woman with varicose veins (which I am), views an invitation to a company swimming party.
“Aw c’mon,” you say, “Who needs personal privacy anyway?” Sure, I can control what I say and how I dress at the swimming party. The problem with Facebook is, by association my boss has invited my tattooed and body-pierced former student, my great aunt the right wing evangelical, my brother-in-law the hard core big city liberal, etc. Invite my colleagues into my virtual universe with its absence of etiquette AND everybody I know or may have ever known? Not so much.
With all due respect to those of you who post often and share liberally, I like retaining a modicum of personal privacy. I have friends and loved ones whose ability to do their job professionally depends on it (teachers, medical professionals, etc.). Thus when opening myself up to scrutiny also involves exposing them, it’s nowhere near a fair trade. For those of you who have posted photos of the fun you’ve had at your most recent frat party or video of getting your most recent tattoo, I suspect that someday you might wish some of that stuff wasn’t out there waiting to be Googled about you. Either that or by then our entire culture will be much more accepting of both difference and humanity. I like to hope for the latter and prepare for the former.
Thus, using LinkedIn for business and Facebook for my personal life is what’s comfortable for me right now. How about you?