It would be silly of me to post a blog about the value of social networking at this point in the game. Everyone knows how important it is to your career and business to have a strong presence in social networking circles like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc…
The real question about social networking is not whether you are using it, but HOW are you using it?
My own highly unscientific research data shows that most people are using social networking for business in the following manner:
- Creating a professional profile for yourself or your company
- Data mining for contacts, prospects, or general business intelligence
- Communicating and sharing information that promotes you or your organization.
Now, these usages are truly appropriate and valuable ways to maintain and expand your business network. But as I look over these three bullet points, I can’t help feel that something is missing.
It seems to me that the current trends in social networking are pretty self-serving. Many of the activities within social networks involve the marketing and self-promotion of people, products, or events. What is missing are the selfless acts of promoting other people and businesses whose products and services could be of great use to someone else in the business community.
For example, when was the last time you proactively recommended someone on LinkedIn, without their request? Unfortunately, most recommendations seem to come as a result of automated requests or because we feel we have to reciprocate when someone writes one for us.
Now, just imagine if you took a proactive stance on this little slice of the social network. Imagine thinking about people that you have worked with in any capacity; colleagues, clients, vendors, business partners, etc. Imagine if you wrote an unsolicited recommendation for someone who provided you with excellent service, a great product, or a positive work experience?
Well, just for a goof — I tried it. Over the past few months, I made a conscious effort to write a recommendation every few weeks for people and companies that have made a positive impact in my life. My goal was not to solicit anything, but to truly write my recommendations from the heart — no strings attached.
The results have been stunning and the reactions have come back to me in various forms of pleasant shock and surprise. Though it was not my intent, I got thankful callbacks, offers for lunch, or free event tickets; and even people who wanted to know, “Hey, what’s the catch?”
So, what has this little experiment taught me?
It taught me that professional, heartfelt kudos are greatly appreciated and cherished. It also taught me that social media has a lot more potential than self-serving posts. Finally, I learned that fostering a positive, pay-it-forward business mindset creates a powerful ripple effect that spreads far beyond our own imaginations.
If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself using your own social network.
You may be in for a real surprise.