What to wear to a Social Media party
Repost – Many thanks to John Mancini (AIIM President, aka @jmancini77) for originally publishing my little Social Media etiquette piece “8 things to wear to a Social Media party” as part of his ever popular 8 things series 🙂
Have a read and enjoy the party!
I was watching my two teenage daughters going to extraordinary lengths preparing themselves for a friend’s birthday party. It occurred to me that it might be a good idea if we also spent some effort preparing ourselves, before joining the virtual party that is Social Media interaction.
So, imagine the scenario: You have been invited for the first time to a Social Media party. It may be a TweetJam on Twitter, a collaborative wiki, your first blog or a group chat on Microsoft Live! Messenger. How do you dress up for the occasion? What do you put in your pockets or your handbag before you leave the house?
8 things to wear to a Social Media party
1 — Loose clothes and comfortable shoes.
The Social Media scene is fast paced place. You need to be flexible and fast. You need to sense and respond quickly. You need to be following several conversations at the same time. You have to be precise and concise. You can’t develop a thesis on 140 character chunks and, even if you do, nobody has the time and patience to hang around waiting for it. Respond now, while people are listening, otherwise your salient gem will be out of context and go unnoticed tomorrow.
2 — Your business card.
There is nothing more irritating than trying to strike a conversation with someone that does not introduce themselves. Let me know who you are, and I’ll talk to you about something we both care about. Otherwise, one of us is likely to bore the other to tears, or walk away. Spend a little time filling your profile in your favorite SM tools. I don’t follow people on Twitter, whose profile is blank! Tell me who you work for, tell me what matters to you, tell me if you have kids or not. Just don’t keep me guessing, because I just won’t bother.
3 — Sunglasses.
Be prepared to be confused, excited, thrilled, interested, dazzled and emotive. This is the value of Social Media. Keep an open mind and leave the blinkers at home. If you come into this party with pre-conceived ideas, you are likely to get no value from your experience. And you will annoy several people on the way too. You don’t have to agree with everything, but be prepared to at least consider other people’s view. If you disagree, explain why. It’s not a game of right and wrong, it’s a game of learning from each other.
4 — Your hearing aid.
Before you speak, listen! Not only out of courtesy but with interest. Some people will inevitably get to the party before you. They have been talking. Take in the atmosphere and don’t dive into the pool straight away. Don’t hog the conversation and don’t be a fly on the wall. You may feel very strongly about your point, but the more you go on about it, the less attention people will pay. Pace yourself and make fewer comments, where they are relevant. There is no rule that says you must blog once-a-day or you must tweet every 10 minutes. And if you do, at least add some value. Add your own views. If all you do is repeat other people’s comments, you are not adding much value. People notice very quickly who adds value to the conversation and who is there just to fill the gaps.
5 — GSOH.
Bring plenty of that… “Good Sense Of Humour”. Don’t forget the “Social” in social media. It’s fun, it’s personal and it’s important. People will quip and joke. People will make mistakes and make fools of themselves. We’ve all done it. Don’t berate people for honest mistakes or hang them just because you took personal offense. If you have a problem, take them on the side and sort it out (that’s what DM and email are for…), don’t pick a fight in the middle of the room. Remember, you never know who is watching and you never know when you will be in their shoes!
6 — Your iPhone, Wikipedia and the Guinness Book of Records.
In other words, knowledge. This is a place to share knowledge and insight. Not to show off, but to add value. Did you hear a good joke? Did you hear an excellent comment? Did you take something away from so-and-so’s presentation? Did your kids make you laugh? Was he ever-so-helpful? Can you take a wild guess on what will happen next? Did you wake up with an amazing idea? People will trade knowledge with you. Interesting info and references. Share what you know and they’ll share back.
7 — Bring a Friend, or Two.
The more the merrier! Seriously though, this is a great opportunity to introduce a colleague or a friend or a relative to the social media scene. Especially if they are introvert or shy, show them what it’s all about. Show them how much they can learn on a topic that interests them. Introduce them to some new friends. To your friends. Give them some ideas what to say. Be an example they can follow. It’s always easier to go to a party with a friend.
8 — A long drink.
This party is a hoot. Social Media is addictive and compulsive. You may need a quick drink to remove your inhibitions when getting into it, and you will definitely need a drink later on, when the party is in full swing, you are totally dehydrated, you’ve been staring at your screen for four hours and you realize it’s 2am and you have a customer presentation in the morning. Please drink responsibly! 🙂
Social Media is not about technology. It’s not even about each of us individually. Each of us contributes and complements the whole community, and the value is in the community as a whole. It’s about a new way of social interaction, as much as it is about gate-crashing the party or eaves-dropping on a cool brainstorming session. It’s about connecting with people you may never meet, who live on the other side of the planet and who have never heard of you before. But they are genuinely interested to hear what you have to say. And it’s about listening, learning and understanding.
So it’s totally worth putting the extra effort to dress up for the party. Enjoy!
I am a Software Strategist, Social Media explorer and Photographer. Professionally, I have been involved with Document Management, Process Management and Content Management for the last 20+ years. The views here are my own and not those of my employer.
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