Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Social Media: Play it Straight

Volume: October 2009

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com

Recently, a client of mine, let’s call him Phil, connected on Facebook with one of his newer vendors. Phil has known the vendor, let’s call him Larry, for years. While Phil does not know Larry well personally, he respects the heck out of him professionally. So much so that he has outsourced sensitive business tasks to Larry’s care.

Phil does a fair amount of social marketing, so as a normal course of networking he invited Larry to join him on Linked In, Twitter, and Facebook – where Phil also maintains a fan page for his business. Phil anticipated that his social marketing connections with Larry would strengthen their business relationship, as well as their businesses in general. Goodness, was Phil in for an education!     

Larry was delighted to receive Phil’s social media invitations and he quickly accepted all of them. Once Phil saw Larry’s acceptances, he pulled up Larry’s Facebook page – as much out of curiosity as anything else. As Phil glanced over the information, he was shocked to see comments from Larry’s friends about what a wild man he had over the weekend, which just happened to be the day before Larry was supposed to begin working on important tasks for Phil’s clients! In addition, the Facebook page contained a smattering of photos showing Larry in compromising positions. As Phil learned more about Larry, he felt sick to his stomach about his decision to hire him.

The next day, Phil called several friends and colleagues to vent about his situation with Larry. He told them he was conflicted. That on the one hand, Larry seemed like a capable professional. But now, on the other, he seemed quite irresponsible. He mentioned that he felt like a prude – sure he loved to have fun, but that he had an expectation that professional relationships would stay respectful. He was saddened by his sudden loss of respect, and trust, for Larry.

With the urging of his friends, Phil met with Larry and expressed his concerns. While the conversation was helpful, Phil could not get his arms around the inconsistent image he now held of Larry. He decided he could not maintain a long-term working relationship with someone he did not entirely trust and respect.

Shifting gears, perhaps you have experienced something similar to Phil’s disillusionment with Larry. Hopefully, you have not “pulled a Larry.” I share this story with you in order to highlight three strategic items to consider about social networking.

  1. Determine which social media are right for you. In addition, determine specifically what outcomes you desire to experience for each social media outlet. For example, I engage in Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, and very soon, Digg – all for different reasons and all to connect with specific audiences. Linked In provides an alternative communication channel for valued colleagues and customers, as well as a convenient method to offer and request recommendations. Twitter serves as a method to create an alternative professional following, and to highlight certain keywords that fit into our search engine optimization strategy. Digg is a means to promote articles and blog posts that I have written and to entice interested parties to visit our website. Facebook is a means to connect with old friends in order to rekindle meaningful experiences. 
    Bottom Line: Know why you are doing something, and be strategic in your methodology.
  2. Play it straight. We all love to have fun! However, you would not attend an in-person networking event and get embarrassingly inebriated in front of valued customers and prospects, would you? You wouldn’t, right? No, you would tend to keep your wits about you. Well, social networking is conceptually identical. In other words, if you are going to engage in a networking tool for professional purposes, stay within the realm of professionalism.
    Bottom Line: If one of your reasons to engage in social media is to connect with your party animal friends, do not accept Facebook invitations from valued clients. 
  3. Be mindful of time. Sometimes people access the Internet and suddenly lose all sense of space and time. They teleport themselves to Time Suck Land. Think about social networking in the same terms that you ponder in-person networking. In other words, when engaging in social networking, ask yourself this question: What business value do I anticipate gaining by the networking time I plan on spending? 
    Bottom Line: Don’t waste your precious time, or other’s time, with social media drivel. Connect in a meaningful and powerful manner. Be authentic, show people some of the more intricate sides of you, and in the process make sane judgments. 

Happy surfing and scribing everyone. Until next time, be well! 

© 2009 DVD Consulting Incorporated, all rights reserved.   

Doug Van Dyke is a leadership and communication consultant, executive coach, and business planner. He enjoys social networking, and encourages life-long learners to connect with him on Linked In and follow his tweets on Twitter. For more information about strategic planning read Leadership Simplified – THE Field Guide for Savvy Leaders. Various audios and videos are also available at www.leadershipsimplified.com. To learn more about consulting services, coaching, and training, or to have Doug speak at your next event, contact him today at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or at 941-776-1121. 

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