Guest Blogger: Suzan Czajkowski
Eighty percent of success is showing up. – Woody Allen
In the physical world, just showing up at an event can be enough. You are present in the room. You can see others and they can see you. It’s still important to do more than that, but just being there is a great start.
In the virtual world, the same guideline applies, but it takes a different kind of effort to “show up”.
To open a social media account and connect to people online puts you in the virtual room so you can hear what others have to say. It is certainly a good start. However, if you don’t contribute to the conversation, you are the wallflower hanging around the edges of the room, acting the part of the lurker: You read, listen, learn… but you do not engage; you do not participate. You don’t show up.
It is only when you speak up in social media that you begin to show up. You must step away from the lurker’s wall and engage, participating in the chatter so others can at least hear your voice and know you are in the room. Even if you don’t have anything important to say at first, it is when you speak up at all that you start to generate an audience. It is this audience that will be in place to hear you when you do have something important to say.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with lurking around in social media, reading but not engaging. However, if you don’t speak up when you have nothing to say, there won’t be anyone to hear you when you do have something to say. You might liken it to small talk, the seemingly less consequential chatter that precedes the reason we’ve all entered the room in the first place.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. – Charles Caleb Colton
Don’t feel like you have anything to say? That’s ok. No one is going to hear you at first anyway. Use this early time to practice speaking in this new environment. All of the available social media have their own ways of enabling you to “like” something, pass on what others have said, or add on your own thoughts. In these ways, you can support and augment (or dispute) what others say. You aren’t generating the initial thought, so it requires less effort and less exposure on your part, giving you start-up practice time to find your voice. This type of interaction is also one of the best ways to become part of an online community because you are engaging in someone else’s circle, which already exists.
Eventually, you’ll get comfortable enough to put your own thoughts out there – but there’s no rush. The issue isn’t how you engage; it’s that you engage. Speak up to show up.