Posted 02.26.2010

Posted 02.26.2010

Everything I need to know about Social Networking Contradicts what I Learned in Kindergarten

Interrupt People

I was reading Chris Brogan’s blog the other day. It was interesting (as usual). They were discussing Twitter etiquette. Should you follow every person that follows you? –I know I don’t and honestly, I don’t want to. Most of the people that I follow are Designers. I’m interested in what they’re interested in.

Chris’s basic point was that he follows everyone that follows them so that they can direct message him. However, just because you can’t direct message someone, doesn’t mean that you can’t contact them. That’s what the @ is for. Therefore, when you’re looking at someone’s Twitter profile, don’t look at home many people they’re following, but rather, look at how many posts include an @, how active are they in the conversation?

That’s a huge for me and the way I use Twitter! The more that I’ve challenged myself to get involved in conversations and to interject my opinion, the more I feel like I’m interrupting a conversation that’s been going on. I feel like I’ve walked up to a crowd of people and I’m trying to find a way to get noticed. — and I guess, in a lot of ways, that’s what we’re all doing. But, I think it’s only in that risk are we really able to make and find new friends.

Encourage Conflict

One of my favorite people to follow is Jason Fried at 37Signals. I’ve talked about him before. Brilliant. I’m really looking forward to his new book, ReWork, coming out in March. But one of the reasons I like him is because he has an opinion. For some, I’m sure it comes across as arrogant. I would argue it demonstrates leadership. In his book, Getting Real, he talks about creating opinionated software. Make decisions for the user. For example, have 25 results on a page. Allowing the user to choose how many results they want to see on a page doesn’t drastically alter their user experience. However, for the programmer, implementing that preference is lines of code. Not only to implement, but maintain as well. No need. Make that decision for them. Be done with it.

Let’s take this concept a bit further. If we all agreed that there should always be 25 results on a page, then there would be no conversation. There would be no tension, no sharpening, no challenge, no growth. By nature, I flee from confrontation, from conflict. However, I wonder how many opportunities for growth, to make myself better, have I missed because I’ve chosen the path of least resistance?

Don’t Listen to Your Teacher (all the time)

Sometimes, it’s better to step outside the box and try something different, something no one has ever tried before.

I’ve been making my way through Linchpin, by Seth Godin. Basically, Seth Godin challenges the way that we do approach our jobs. Doing exactly what you’re told is good, but not good enough. Better is going above and beyond what is expected. Excellent, is being creative. He talks about how everyone is an artist and we all have the ability to create something beautiful. This isn’t just graphic designers, like myself, it’s marketers, customer service agents, salesmen, cashiers.

Taking a risk is scary, because it means going into the unknown. Ironically, though, at the end of the day, our job is more secure because we’ve made ourselves indispensable. We can do what rule follower Joe doesn’t: think for ourselves. Your employer can always find another rule follower, but he can’t find another you.


If you want a sneak peak of Seth Godin’s book, check out his interview with Merlin Mann, over on 43folders.