I want to talk a little bit about how social media can lull us into a false sense of connection, and what we can do to counteract that.
When is connection not connection?
It's easy to look at a list of friends or followers on social media and feel connected, but ask yourself this: how many of those people do you actually know? And how many of them know you? How many of those people could you say was a real friend?
Social media fosters an illusion of connection
Social media is a wonderful thing, but it is no substitute for actual relationships. It's becoming all too common to throw throw a comment, or a like or two, someone's way and then consider that relationship maintained and healthy.
Trying to manage your relationships using only social media is, in the words of my dear friend Sam, "like trying to make an orange souffle using only an orange." We're all guilty of this to a certain degree - I certainly know I am!
Breaking up with my phone
Over the last couple of months I have been making a concerted effort to break up with my phone. I installed a monitoring app and have managed to keep my usage down to under two hours a day. As I only use social media on my phone, I've noticed that whenever I cut my usage, it has a marked improvement in the quality of my relationships.
Instead of liking a Facebook post and moving on, I'm finding more opportunities to connect with people in real life, or on video calls, or even via email. Taking my interactions from one to many (via a social media post) to one to one has resulted in deeper connections, renewed friendships, and business development opportunities appearing out of the blue.
Benefits of a proper connection plan
There's no denying that this way of staying connected takes more time, energy, and attention. But it's so much more beneficial, especially if you actually care about the people you're connected to! However, the more people you want to stay in touch with, the bigger and more unwieldy it can become - this is the very need that social media fulfills after all.
Managing your time and energy is crucial to making this work, as well as keeping track of who you've spoken to and when (particularly when you have a lot of business/personal crossover in your connections).
I rely heavily on my CRM (customer/contact relationship management) system, Hubspot, where I can store my contacts as well as a record of emails and conversations we've had. I can tag people (for example if they've been part of one of my community projects in the past), and set up reminders for when to reach out and get in touch.
Mastering the art of connection
Making and maintaining connections is one of the top jobs for any entrepreneur or business owner, but it's often the first thing to fall by the wayside when things get busy. Without consistently staying in touch with the people in your network, and reaching out to new people on a regular basis, you miss out not only on attracting new clients and customers, but also a strong support network of people who know exactly what you’re going through.
No one can do it alone
No one does this entrepreneurial stuff alone, you know. That's why cultivating meaningful connections is so important.
Over the last few weeks I've been lucky enough to have help, advice and feedback about my business from some incredible humans - some of them I've known for years, some of them I've only just met. But they've all made me a better business person, and they've all contributed to my success.
Making connections and building a network is about SO MUCH MORE than just getting clients.
It's about help, support, feedback, advice, a sympathetic ear, cheerleaders and commiserators, mentors, people who understand the roller coaster you're on, referrals, collaborations, people who help you and people you can help in turn, service, humanity, revolution, and so much more.