I am getting ready for a presentation on social media to a group of “senior” execs (senior because they are older than I am).  I was chosen because the meeting planner thought they would relate to me better than a “twenty something”. No disrespect to my many talented, and smart younger peers, but it is harder to pretend this is a young person’s game when they are looking face to face with someone their own age.

Every time I am asked to give a presentation like this, I think it is a little strange.  Let’s face it, I don’t fit the stereotype of the typical Social Media Buff, but lately I am noticing more and more people like me, who don’t fit the stereotype.   So today, blogging, and social media in general, is a game for everyone.   (Though not everyone plays well)

What will I tell this group of senior execs about social media? It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices, but you can’t use that as an excuse not to try any of them.  You have to jump in, and it almost doesn’t matter where you jump first. Facebook, Smaller Indiana, Twitter, LinkedIn or Plaxo will all have their pros and cons.   Find one which your friends, peers, business associates or children (and maybe grandchildren) are using.  Connect with people you know, watch how they use the tools and learn from them.

  • Start slow, listen to what others say, share little pieces of you at a time.  Begin with the basics: contact information and a good photo, and build from there.
  • Budget time, maybe 30 minutes a day for social media. Make it part of your routine.  If you read the newspaper and make a few phone calls to start your day, scan social media for headlines, and chat with a few people on line.   Social media is just another way of doing what you already do off line.
  • Don’t be afraid of making a mistake.  The fluid nature of the web is like sand castles and the ocean, very quickly what you say is washed away by a sea of other comments and communication.

Alexandra Samuel admits it is impossible to keep up with all  the new technologies, and it is ok to stop trying to do what everybody does and find what works for  you.  She says:

What is available is choice: choice among social networks, choice among software programs, and choice among hardware options.

But most crucial of all, the choice to stop keeping up with all the shoulds and must-haves, and to start choosing technologies that support the goals and priorities that matter to you.

It seems I have written posts like this before and it surprises me how many people are still sitting on the sidelines.  If you are in a corporate gig, it is time to jump in! The connections you make today may lead you to a new job tomorrow.  And if you own your own business, you need the connection with your clients!

And if you are already playing, do you have a favorite tip for the new folks?