Thom Singer is a professional speaker, corporate trainer and author. He regularly speaks to corporate and association audiences about the power of business relationships and his “Conference Catalyst” program transforms how people engage at conferences and other events.
In a world that is crazy about social media, real leaders care more about people than they do about “likes”, “links”, “shares”, or “follows”. It is easy to believe our tweets and other online posts are creating stronger connections, but after nearly a decade of active social media participation people often seem less connected. Our online communities are hungry for more leadership instead of more pictures of food or grumpy cats.
I am often surprised how people create countless social media connections to people they have never met, and once they have the digital link they never have any other interaction. LinkedIn, Facebook and other online tools can be great to grow and cultivate friendships, but the link alone is useless. A network is more than a phone book. If your connections are mostly strangers, then there is not much value. You would not get the phone books from all the cities in Los Angeles County and claim to have 12 million people in your network. Relationships take a two-way commitment that goes beyond a click.
Most strangers are not collecting online links to serve their greater society, but instead they hope to find opportunities for themselves. Showing a big number of “friends” leads people to think that opportunity is coming their way. But Social Media can become a flooded pool of the self-serving, and in the end that delivers nothing. It is not always this way, but there can be lots of narcissism out there in the online world.
The best leaders find ways to serve others, in real life and online. No matter what type of community you observe, the most admired leaders are helping those around them succeed. If every post you have in social media is about your own activities, then you are missing out on an opportunity to be a leader.
Take a few minutes to review your blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other posts. Are they all about you or do you praise and promote others? I suggest a split between self-promotion and propping up the people in your network. Highlighting the activities of celebrities or others in your industry that you hope will notice your mention of them is not the same as promoting the people whom you know personally.
When you give the attention to others you are leading. Leaders are not always in the spotlight, but instead helping others achieve to their highest potential. Social Media can change the world, but it will not happen by accident. We need people who understand how to serve to raise to the highest levels. The fact that Kim Kardashian has over 18 million Twitter followers speaks volumes to what is wrong in our online society (the Dalai Lama has only 7 million).
It is hard to do this, as I find it easier to post links promoting my stuff. It takes a commitment and investment to make your online activities beneficial to others without a direct path to your own pay day. But that is what leaders do.
Today’s post is the third of the SOS Leadership Men Who Lead Blog Series. The purpose of this blog series is to share the stories and insights of men who are answering the call to leadership in their lives. Come back each Friday to read more!