My inconclusive ramble of a post exploring my relationship – now and in the future – with social media evoked not only more responses than I expected, but responses that were more emphatic than I expected. Some people responded with absolutely encouragement of bailing from most, if not all, of these platforms. Others sent wistful communications about their desire to do so but feelings of being stuck there, often for professional reasons or because it’s the only place they have to connect with people who are important to them, like family. Still others were adamant in their support of social platforms in expressions that ranged from somewhat defensive to outright annoyed with me for suggesting that thriving businesses can be built without the support of these broadcasting giants.
To all of you, I’d like to say two things:
- My exploration of this topic is far from over. I suspect I’ll do a bit of a cha-cha with social media platforms over the coming years, much as I do with many big, complex issues. It’s a dance of learning, implementing, adjusting, reconsidering, and then doing it all again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
- I have been starting and running businesses for the last 15 years. Four of my five businesses have served other businesses. In the last six years alone – since I became a coach – I’ve worked with hundreds of people starting or growing businesses. And in all of that time and with all of those people and all of their businesses, I have found that though there are certainly business trends and themes of business success, there are a multitude of ways to grow – and define – a successful business.
Let me give you one, pretty straightforward example:
Liz Long is a fantastic and stunningly prolific self-published writer, primarily of young adult fantasy and superhero fiction, though she recently created an alter-ego to write her first sweetheart romance series. She is a beast on social media. She utilizes a variety of platforms, writes a blog, and distributes a newsletter, and she gets it all done with authenticity, playfulness, and business smarts.
This is how Liz became a USA Today Bestselling author.
Kathleen Grissom is a fantastic deep-diver of a writer of historical fiction. When she completed her first book, The Kitchen House, she decided to go the traditional publishing route and landed a contract (no easy feat) with Simon and Schuster. As I recall the story from the keynote address where I first met Kathy, they agreed to print 11,000 copies which is nothing in the book world. When they refused to print more, she went about disproving their assumption that a first-time author could do no better – and she did so by old fashioned hand-selling. She drove to every independent bookstore within a three-hour radius of her home and built relationships with the staff, managers, and owners who then often put her book in prominent spots and suggested it to customers. She found book clubs reading it and offered to phone or Skype in to answer questions.
This is how Kathy became a New York Times Bestselling author.
Both of these women have fierce work ethics. Both of them are personable, talented, and persistent. They both have made wonderful successes in a particularly challenging industry. And, yes, Liz does in-person relationship building, notably through writers’ conferences and events. And yes, Kathy does have a social media presence with thousands of followers on Instagram and Facebook. The building of their successes, though, came primarily with Liz online and Kathy offline.
It’s not only valuable but important that we each survey the landscape of available tools and evaluate them as they relate to things like:
- What it is that defines our biggest, baddest lives and careers. Building a one-person consultancy invites a different approach than a goal to become the next Amazon.
- Where we gain energy and where we lose energy.
- Where we shine in creating relationships and build community.
- Our personal balance of comfort when it comes to privacy and the spotlight.
Maybe it’s my own brand of rebelliousness but I absolutely bristle at the notion that there is one single way to achieve any given goal.
Then again, maybe it’s all those years of experience in living my own unconventional life, and supporting others as they find their own unique routes to their individual definitions of a Life Well Lived.
Wishing you fun and curiosity as you explore!
Right now – and this could well change tomorrow – I’m not visiting any social media but LinkedIn. Instead, I’m focusing on continuing to make my newsletter as juicy and engaging as possible for the community there, including cooking up new ways to get that community connected with one another. You can join in the fun here.