Monday, October 27, 2008

Need a Socialite's Guide to Social Networks

Social Networking 101, anyone?

I've never been a social person. I was shy and unpopular in school, had a small cadre of friends in college (who I hardly hear from anymore), and don't have a lot of local friends as an adult. When I was in the military, my lack of insight into the social structure of the workplace hurt people's impression of me; like one commander told me, "You do excellent work, but no one knows it."

Small talk doesn't make sense to me. If I need something, I ask for it; if I get it, I think the person. If I don't, I ask again. I'm a good nag. If I see someone in need, I offer to help. I'm a good helper, too. What I'm not good at is the in-between: just hanging out, making contact for the sake of contact, calling someone up "just 'cause." I feel like I'm wasting their time--and I guess I give the impression that someone who did that to me is wasting mine.

You'd think, then, that writing would be the ideal job for me. I sit at my computer, wrapped in my own little world, chat with writer friends via IM or the couple of chats I attend, and sometimes meet others in person at conventions or events. If I need to interview someone, I've no compunction about getting on the phone and cold-calling.

Unfortunately, my social ineptitude is hurting me where marketing is concerned. I belong to a few dozen social networking sites, form MySpace to Ning, Yahoo to forum groups. I make my little sites, post my little news...but then what?

I really hate glitter graphic comments of "Have a happy..." I don't want a strawberry on facebook. When someone posts news on a Yahoo group and I see there are already 20 congratulations, I don't feel like I need to add to the traffic just to add a "ditto." And while I answer questions and occasionally ask for help, I feel like most of the time, I'm just promoting myself as a product. I don't much like that either.

So, like in high school, I'm present. I'm known. But am I "popular"?

No one gave me a handbook on how to be popular in high school. I'm still looking for one on how to make real connections on social network sites. Telling me to just leave comments is very artificial to me. what do I say if I don't want to post a useless glitter smiley?

Got any ideas?

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