Personally, I struggle and too often cut corners. I shouldn't, but I do. Like a few weeks ago, during the SXSW Panel voting fray, I see a link to a post over at Communications Overtones promoting a few SXSW talks. So I go pop over, skim the post and see that the author is inviting readers to suggest other panels in the comments. I had a panel submitted in the SXSW picker that I desperately want to host because I think the topic is one that is one we should all be paying more attention to, so I drop it in the comments, thank the blogger for the opp and move on.
About five minutes later I feel my first "that guy" pang as I chastise myself for not taking the time to read Kami's session proposal and/or vote. It got worse when I read the comments on her post and saw this one. Talk about feeling like "that guy." So I stopped what I was doing, and went back to the post. And I'm so glad I did because I found one that I loved. I voted, commented and meant to write this post the next day to encourage everyone else to vote. But like I said, I'm trying but often suffer from bandwidth constriction. So, on that last point, my apologies to Kami I kind of let you down on that part.
Long story long... you gotta give a lot to receive a little in Social Media. Like it or not, giving is the currency here. All the great ones do it. If you don't believe me, spend some time with Chris or Peter's stuff... sure they get from this space, both earn a good living from this space, but they give so much more -- some of which you never even see. I'm fond of telling companies how much Google loves social media, but honestly, Karma loves it more. So if for no other reason than Karma can be a bitch or a goddess, give more than you get here.
But as I noted, that's hard sometimes. So my thoughts for making sure you don't lapse into being "that guy" are this. Feel free to add, detract or just discuss in the comments.
- If you don't have time just don't. It's better to speak less often but provide more value when you do. If you only tweet when you have time to talk, you'll be a better tweeter. If you only read blogs when you have time to comment, you'll be a better member of the blogger community. And you'll make your favorite bloggers better and their community richer.
- Be patient. Another one I struggle with ;-) We all want to be a Brogan. Not in the "I have to have 100,000 followers" kind of way but in the Godin "I've got a tribe that values my opinion and me" way. But Chris didn't get where he is and neither did Seth by focusing on promotion. No, both got their by focusing on giving, sharing and helping others to see a worldview they (the reader) liked and wanted more of. It's easy to be a person or worse, a brand, that is just now entering this space and wanting to be "big" fast. In fact, lack of patience is probably one of the primary reasons that people and brands fall into the "that guy" trap. But do yourself a favor, chill.
- Be thankful. Don't just thank people because it's the right thing to do, be truly thankful. Each and every person that comments on your blog, tweets your stuff or re-tweets your stuff is doing you a favor and spending their very valuable time on your stuff. So if you're a blogger, say thank you. If you're a brand say it twice! But most importantly, mean it. You never know where your "tribe" is going to come from, you never know who they'll be, but once they raise their hands and identify themselves, you'll be one step closer to achieving whatever it is you want to do here. And I'm guessing the desire to achieve some goal here is what causes most of us to have "that guy" lapses.
And while I'm not sure this is directly related to not being "that guy" -- I think it's a helpful hint none the less so I'm tossing it in here.
Be humble. I don't care how smart you are, I can find 10 people that are smarter, probably with one Google search. Keep that in mind as you write or comment. Don't preach, just talk. Be Socrates not Cesar. Yea, yea, Greek vs Roman -- but you get the picture. This is hard, especially when you're passionate about the subject. But take it to heart. If the tone of your tweet or comment subtly sends the message that you're more interested in being smart than getting smarter, people will be less likely to respond. Which, if you're truly trying to be a good member of the community and learn from others, actually runs counter to what you want. This one is my personal demon as my debating style tends to run towards the aggressive side which some interpret as trying to prove smarts vs engaged debate...but I'm working on it.
So am I the only one with this lapse problem? Have you lapsed lately? What did you do and more importantly, what are you doing differently to keep it from happening again? Let me know. Maybe we can start a program or just meet up at a conference to chat over cocktails.