Take a trip down memory lane and revisit your high school days. Each grade had its individual groups of students who spent a ton of time together. There were the jocks, the smart students, the band/music aficionados, the alternative/rock dudes, the so-called popular kids and so on.
Thinking back, the one thing I hated most about high school were the cliques. Many of us became so absorbed in the group we were part of that we missed opportunities to find new friends.
The same problem can happen with social media. We build up thousands of followers on Twitter, but we only engage with a portion of them. We attend tons of social media events and conferences, but we’re always talking to the same people. I’m just as guilty of this as the next person, and it bothers me. If social media is all about connecting and creating relationships, then we’re doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t make a conscious effort to step outside our social media inner circle.
If you’re in the PR industry, you know it’s important to maintain the relationships you build. But at the same time, we should always look for opportunities to meet new people and learn from them. And social media makes this so easy.
Here are a few simple ways to step out of your social media bubble:
- Talk to new people each week on Twitter. Don’t retweet something and call it a day. If a follower you haven’t chatted with yet says something interesting, respond and start a conversation.
- When you’re at a conference or event, talk to at least five people you never met before. Whipping out your business card and moving on to the next person doesn’t count!
- Respond to a question on LinkedIn from someone you’re connected to but may not know that well.
- Leave a comment on a new blog you started reading, or one you read all the time but haven’t commented on yet.
- Ask someone in your area who you’ve only talked to on Twitter or connected with on LinkedIn to meet for lunch or coffee. Grow the relationship offline.
- For the people who don’t live close to you, schedule a Skype chat or call. I did this recently with Minnesota PR professional Arik Hanson, and it was a nice change up from the tweeting and e-mails.
- Participate in one of the many weekly and biweekly Twitter chats. This is a great way to start a convo with new people. Some chats for PR pros include #journchat, #PR20chat, #PRstudchat, #sportsprchat, #tweenPR and #measurepr.
Challenge yourself to do at least one or two of the above suggestions. And don’t do it simply for the sake of gaining more followers or readers on your blog. Do it because connecting with and learning from new and interesting people is really how you win in social media.
Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments!