One of the most impressionable lessons I was taught occured while I was in middle school. I remember that they had us read a book about personal development, and followed it up with a lecture based upon what we had read. The text itself I found interesting; I don’t remember the name of the book, but it was about a personal development coach (essentially) who had gained fortune through recycling tires to use as a safer surface on playgrounds, and also had a fishing show. The book went on to explain networking tips, and how networking is important.
With Twitter and Facebook and other social media sites, networking has never been so easy to succeed at and yet so difficult to understand. The roads to networks have been opened, and yet I do not feel that people understand how they work. It seems to me that not even the businesses which utilize Twitter and Facebook fully understand the concept of what they are doing.
One of my college professors had an assignment for my class in which we were to walk up to a random stranger and start a conversation with them. One of the points which he seemed to be making was that everyone has points of common interest, and it is by taking advantage of these points of common interest that we can have a conversation with a complete stranger. This is one of the basic concepts of networking; in order to have an audience, a person must have something which interests this audience. Easier said than done, isn’t it? Well, not necessarily.
Let’s take a step back and assess ourselves. Can you narrow your identity into simply a few categories – and by a few, I mean no more than two or three? I know that I can’t. My three major passions which I do every day are probably design, programming, and video games. Yet even these branch into other categories of interests, and to be honest, I can’t define myself as just a gamer and a computer geek. I’m also a writer, politically interested, an artist, a wannabe musician, not to mention the different branches and disciplines which I have read up on and been interested in over the years – from birds, to horses (yes, I have experienced a farm – strange thing for a computer geek!), to all kinds of other things.
This is the first step in networking as a whole – not necessarily classifying ourselves as a certain identity, but by embracing our interests and extending them into other areas. Other people aren’t interested in speaking to brick walls, nor should you allow yourself to become a brick wall. People are interested in people – real, living, and breathing works of flesh and intelligence.
So, how can you make yourself more interesting? Well, take an interest yourself. Don’t expect other people to simply be interested in you – be interested in what they’re interested in as well. As Liz Strauss at Successful Blog has said, show people that you care. Because, if you don’t care, why should anyone else? In addition, be yourself. What’s more interesting – a person with a wide range of interests, or something fake and intangible? That’s how a person becomes when they try to not be genuine – fake, intangible, and uninteresting.
Thus, my important points today are these:
- Make yourself interesting. Explore a wide variety of topics, and read. It might not be the “cool” thing to do, but sometimes just browsing the books at your local library can completely change your horizons. Or just try a new hobby every now and then.
- Take an interest. Other people aren’t immediately going to be interested in you unless you show them that you are interested in them. Show that you care – and connect. Remember the golden rule? Treat others as you wish to be treated – and show an interest in others if you want an interest shown in you.
Now, note, that this is not a “how to be successful in social media” series, nor is it intended to be one. I will touch on social media, but I do not believe that by having a large amount of “followers” a person is any more or less “successful” at social media. This is aimed at helping people extend their network and understand that success isn’t all you think it is – it’s not about money, it’s about happiness, and finding what really makes you happy.