Short of being a known serial killer who’s lost his Internet privileges, anyone can get introduced to you. You’re probably on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, and otherwise connected in much less than six degrees to every soul on the planet, with more being born every day. Isn’t that why you’re building your personal brand?
What do you make of these “connections” or offers of “friendship?” And, do you really feel “followed?” on Twitter? I’ve actually been followed in real life and they arrested the guy. It was scary. I wish Twitter had chosen another word.
Certainly, these relationships start off feeling contrived, mostly because they aren’t earned. It’s like sitting on a bus last Tuesday, and because there were other people on that bus, inviting those people – and people who know them – to a reunion the following week where you all share your personal photo albums. Only, the reunion is held in a complete stranger’s house in a town you only pass through when you’re bored or can’t sleep, and someone keeps shouting: Lose Weight Fast! or whatever messages you get on Facebook.
I may just be feeling this now because a bunch of people who know people who know me requested my friendship on Facebook today. Some of them took unfortunately scary photos, not Halloween scary, just unattractive. Not everyone is photogenic or realizes a photo is worth a thousand words about your personal brand, so these may actually be extremely good-looking people in real life.
But, I felt obligated to click on their faces in order to scrutinize who were our alleged mutual friends. Turns out each request came from a person who is a friend of a friend of a friend of mine. I have slowly inherited other people’s friends, and probably so have you. So, I welcomed everyone to read my angry posts about healthcare and the war, as well as what I occasionally cook for dinner or feel you should know about the weather in Southern California. You know, my posts.
What’s it going to take to really connect and warm up to the people we’re linked to or following as we build something real from our personal branding efforts? It’s probably like real life. We’re probably going to have to care about each other. Argue a little. Be bored but still willing to listen. Occasionally, be shocked. Just like we are with our real friends.
But, we have to work to bridge that empty feeling factor. So much personal brand outreach feels like getting the can without the Coke inside.
The worst for me is my LoserIn groups, which is what LinkedIn groups feel like, since 98% of the questions my fellow group members ask are getting goose eggs in terms of response. Sometimes I feel bad enough for the person who’s posted the question, that I give a pity response. That’s like pity applause when the only people laughing during Jay Leno are the people he pays, like Kevin Eubanks. And by the way, what a lonely, empty hour that is! I did some pity watching one night, but ran out of pity before the first commercial.
Jay Leno isn’t funny, but he plays the part of someone who should be funny. He is sort of funny looking like most comedians are. He has a prepared monologue filled with snipes about men sleeping with women who aren’t their wives. He has the same tiresome celebrity guests who couldn’t possible enjoy making the rounds of these shows, and a band leader.
This is a show just filling airtime.
Results or just activity?
A lot of social media sites are the same. They are filling airtime. They really aren’t helping most people do the work of personal branding, which is to make a lasting impression and engage an audience.
My real friends will help me move my couch. My real connections will tip me off about a great new supplier or potential client. I bring soup to my real friends who are ill. I tell my real network about job openings they can apply for and new projects they can bid on, and encourage them to use my name if it helps their cause.
I think this would be a good week go through your friends, followers and connections list and see if there’s anything you can do for anyone. You might make a real friend, which could just be more valuable right now than the financial ROI we’re all waiting to see come from personal branding and social media.
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen.