We've been living life online for decades. It sounds wacky, but even since before it was called the "Internet," we've been poking around online.
Brad first became fascinated with the virtual life as an editor for a directory of online databases. It seemed suddenly that his life-long dream of finding a magic information machine was coming true as more of his conversations centered on LexisNexis and database services most of our contemporaries had never heard of.
Once he discovered CompuServe, there was simply no stopping him! But, just because none of the social media we enjoy is new to us, that doesn't mean there isn't room to learn something new. Isn't that the case wherever humans tend to gather?
Lester used what may be an overlooked tool to reconnect with someone who was once a valuable resource
Reconnecting with a business partner
Recently, Brad reconnected with an old business partner through LinkedIn. That's a headline akin to "Dog bites man" as opposed to "Man bites dog," but the way this happened reawakened in both your authors the need to keep looking at our day-to-day tools with new eyes.
Brad had worked with Lester Thomas Shane more than a decade ago when the author worked on a book for Brad's publisher. While checking LinkedIn a few weeks ago, Brad saw that LinkedIn was prompting him to "endorse" Lester. The two men hadn't talked in years, but as Brad recalled, Lester was actually quite adept at the skill the site was offering as an endorsement, so he clicked the button and thought little of it beyond that click.
How many times have you been endorsed on LinkedIn? How many times has that led to anything beyond a notification in your email? Yeah, that's pretty much the way we felt, too. That is until Brad reconnected with Lester.
Before that day passed, Lester sent the following note:
Appreciate the nod. Hope the new year has begun well for you and brings much fulfillment as it continues. Keep me posted.
Now, in all the times we've been endorsed by friends, associates or casual acquaintances, neither of us has ever reached out and thanked the endorser. It's so simple, but it instantly reconnected Brad to a long-ago associate and stirred, not only good memories of work that's past, but also positive connections in the present. Lester probably had no idea that his simple note of thanks would resonate, but it did.
A simple but powerful way to use Twitter is as a window into the world your mentors occupy
When Brad reached out to him, Lester explained that his mother was really strict about thank you notes, and he continues in her way even now. He also explained why he always thanks people who endorse him.
"I know that on LinkedIn a lot of endorsements are back patting among friends, but even so it feels like a simple 'thanks' is in order," he says. "If it's someone I haven't heard from in a while, like you, it feels like a perfect opportunity to reconnect." The two then had an amiable online conversation where they both filled each other in on details of life since the time they worked together.
This was the first time we've actually felt good about LinkedIn endorsements. Because they're often prompted by the site, so many of the endorsements we've received seem a little too random for our tastes. Just between us, we've even been endorsed in areas where neither one of us holds any particular skill. But, Lester used what may be an overlooked tool to reconnect with someone who was once a valuable resource. This may or may not lead to further work between these two men, but there certainly wasn't as much of a chance of that before Lester took a few minutes to reach out.
Snoop around on Twitter
A simple but powerful way to use Twitter is as a window into the world your mentors occupy. Each of us has those individuals in our professions who we loved learning from, but have no ready way to reach. That is until Twitter.
Yes, you might go to a conference and then use LinkedIn to connect with the keynote speaker, because her work resonates with you. But, likely as not, you'll get a fairly static look at this person's professional life. On the other hand, if you follow her on Twitter, you may see in a very dynamic way what she's reading, thinking about, worrying over and working on. You'll see that, because she will reveal those details to you in the tweets she creates and the links she supplies.
Unlike other social networks, Twitter is a place where people generally follow those who follow them. There isn't the same standard for allowing people into your Twitter network that you'd apply to LinkedIn or Facebook. So, if you have people within your industry who are doing work that intrigues you, go ahead and follow them. Now, every time they tweet, you'll get a glimpse of what concerns and interests are occupying the minds of people you'd like to emulate.
While you may use your current Facebook page for your business to interact with customers, why stop there? Look at your business for the niches you occupy and move beyond the overall picture
Likewise, as you go about your online research, share the things you're uncovering, too. Just as you have mentors, you might discover those people coming up behind you are thinking of you in just that same way. It's a sure-fire way to gain insights and share them at the same time.
Make Facebook specific
OK, of course you have your business Facebook page. That's understood. But, have you looked more closely at your operation to see where you can expand your Facebook presence? Here's a chance to get more specific than ever and gain more power on the site. Suppose you sell household collectibles. While you may use your current Facebook page for your business as a whole to interact with customers, why stop there? Look at your business for the niches you occupy and move beyond the overall picture.
That may inspire you to create another Facebook page for glassware and another for china. You may have one for table linens and one for kitchen gadgets. The choices are limited only by your imagination. On each of these pages you'll be able to zero in and provide valuable insights to your customers targeted exactly to the interests you already know they share with you. That not only lets you feature your expertise, it also narrows your customer universe according to their interests.
So, yes, we've been living online for a very long time and yet even old-time occupants of this amazing online world can learn a new trick or two. It may not be as groundbreaking a headline as "Man bites dog," but discovering that old dogs can still learn new tricks is a good thing, too!