Who Are You, Anyway?: Showing Up Online

For the past few weeks I’ve been pondering all the reasons it’s good to have so much choice in the world, as well as what makes it challenging. Have you ever stopped to count how many choices of everyday commodities there are? Be it bread or shampoo or a professional service provider?

As a loyal shopper at Trader Joe’s honestly I find just the right amount of variety for myself. Stopping by a larger grocery chain quite frankly can overwhelm me. And I’ve had the same end result of overwhelm when I go shopping online for anything.

Say you are trying to pick for yourself a marketing specialist to support you. And there are just too many great looking options to cull through as you search for possible partners.

How does one choose when a friend’s referral doesn’t come to fruition or you want to do a little of your own footwork to confirm for yourself?

How do you decide who to call and talk to as a next step?

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Social Networking: Am I Still Wasting Time?

I’m about to take a break from expressing my healthy and respectful fascination with Social Networking, media darling that it is. But just tomorrow!

In fact, I realized just how much attention and focus I was giving soaking up all things social media, reading more and more articles and unearthing new blogs to scan, comment upon and digging deep into new divine web finds (as I call them) bookmarked for later examination.

So occasionally I make myself stop and unplug for a day–and it’s challenging; voracious reader that I am.

All the time spent, soaking up unending content, has been affecting my sleep and quite frankly, my productivity. Can you relate? Are you ever a bit obsessed with new shiny objects like me? And in some ways history repeats itself.

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A Startup Success Story (and Facebook played an active role!)

Ok, it’s late and I am up too (again) late but before I sign off for the night: I “gotta” share this story that ran in the San Francisco Business Times for a couple of reasons that have me beaming and I hope you can feel my enthusiasm leap off your screen:

September 25, 2009 — The San Francisco Business Times featured How Fast Time Flies as its Startup Spotlight (read the story!) Web site helps weave memories into digital scrapbooks .

A pleasantly surprised How Fast Times Flies founder recently shared it with her Facebook circle (of which I am gratefully part of.)

#1 Cathy Biddy Bennett was once upon a time a high school classmate of mine and well I don’t think any of us of the Santa Catalina class of 1983 figured back then (as we headed off to college) that for some, our fortunes would be made via the internet. Were we even conscious of it as we chose Liberal Arts degrees and pursued careers in medicine, finance, law, teaching and other fine fields?

#2 Real Relationships and Strategic Alliances played a significant role in catalyzing this success story. And trust and collaboration paid off big time.

#3 Utilizing Facebook successfully helped build a brand and generate interest that became sales and more sales:

“Ecom also built Bennett a Facebook presence in January 2009, and the business took off.

Prior to Facebook, How Fast Time Flies had about 11,000 members. Membership more than doubled within six months. Bennett now advertises on Facebook, has a Facebook application and a dedicated fan page.

“That medium is so, so powerful,” Bennett said. “I didn’t get into it at first because I didn’t think my customers were there; I didn’t think moms were there. And, yeah, they are.”

Cathy very gently, genuinely and tactfully used first her personal page and later her business page to showcase some of the cool things that customers had created. I watched as time passed that she got a little bolder, but remained understated as well, in her posts to share wins and wows. And her way “of being” herself, clearly attracted even more interest and customers.

No hype, just honest and genuine enthusiasm from Cathy the person (and the proud business owner), sharing customer creations month after month and contest winners as voted upon by the community. I recall one time months back, she unknowingly double posted only then to apologize for the duplicate posting. I suspect no one minded the double take. For her authenticity always shines through for me.

Using social networks like Facebook or perhaps one that is more targeted, such as Greenwala, a newer network established to champion all things Green will increase awareness of you as individual or cause or company over time. Facebook is for everyone AND within the entire population are the tribes we identify with also.

More specialized social networks may be easier to locate by online searches and they may have fewer members BUT at least you know they are more than likely receptive to you and your values and offering. The question may be how many active profiles in different communities can you consistently cultivate and participate and contribute to? A dormant profile within a community could send a mixed message, so being discerning about where you spend your energy seems a valuable dialogue to have.

Now, I don’t think it’s necessary to “over think” a Social Media Strategy. In fact, over thinking it could backfire sometimes. Authenticity trumps strategy time and again and good finds are naturally shared through friends and family and groups and now, social networks. So imagine that you have a good thing that simply needs to be more easily found. God bless the entrepreneurial cheerleaders” who created first newsletters, then websites, and now populate their blogs with the great exciting things they have found as they journey the web or the physical world.

Social networks allow for you to reach out, as yourself, be yourself, and be more easily discovered (if you are ready to be). Planning your involvement professionally and tactically is important, like the foundation of a home is. And genuineness rings true and clear where posts and pitches are concerned. And responsiveness when one can be, builds rapport naturally.

One of my favorite phrases is “Social Media is Straight Up Honesty.” –Francisco Rosales, of SocialMouths.com

And for as long as I have seen Cathy posting on Facebook as the mom and friend and business woman she is, I have felt her gentle spirit in every post and comment and share. Inspiring in me a desire to use her company’s fun service (aka patronize her) and let my circles know about this cool way to digitally beautify and share photos with others.

Good Product/Service I need/want + Generous/Gracious Leadership + Values that Align with Mine = Gets My Attention and Business!

I celebrate this former classmate’s enterpreneurial success and again gently encourage all you who are waiting to join in Social Networking, as the meaningful channel it is to grow personally and professionally and organically over six months, one Facebook post at a time, with some strategic and well-timed ads to attract new followers (per the article).

CONGRATULATIONS Cathy.

How Fast Time Flies for those who enjoy digital scrapbooking what a concept!

Today's Reason I LOVE Facebook

Today marks the second time someone found my posts and my profile compelling and reached out to connect after “reading up” on me and what I care about. I have been mighty transparent too, for that is how I like to be.

I’m thinking, wow, this social media channel works wonders.

And today marks the second time that next round of dialogue took place off line, by way of some nearly old-fashioned technology. Yes, we spoke on the phone. And it was a rich and satisfying conversation with a promise of follow up and some collaborating.

You know what I like better than people’s photos and posts and comments and quips and quiz results? The sound of their voice in an interactive and real-time dialogue. Filled with fresh energy as ideas are lobbed back and forth and again. Or better still the satisfaction of beginning a dialogue, and making a plan to further connect.

Technology aside for a moment, I experienced Facebook today as an unknowing professional matchmaker.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or (Fill In The Blank): pick your bridge and cross over to meet up with that fine new colleague and fellow travellers.