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  • Diana Schneidman

Social media networking: about this “strategy” thing

I listen to MP3s in my car that I have randomly downloaded from diverse sources. I am indiscriminate in my downloading and not too fussy about what I listen to till the bitter end. I have pretty low standards for when I skip to the next item without enduring the currently playing teleseminar till the sign-off.

In other words, I sit through stuff that is inoffensive though not exceptionally instructional, often hearing the same old bromides presented as though they are jewels of wisdom.

This week I listened to a panel of experts reveal how to use social media networking to build your coaching business and generate profits strategically.

This panel was assembled and moderated by a rather big-name coach whom I respect. So I was somewhat surprised when the first speaker stated (and the following two speakers concurred) that social networking is largely about giving to others without thought of receiving.

Their comments suggested that they are not very precise in the connections they pursue, using online tools that deliver categories of potential connections rather than tightly targeted leads.

To put it bluntly, their strategy is to be unstrategic.

At this moment, my connections on the Big Three (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) are nothing to brag about. Especially Twitter, which for me has grown to a sizable follower count but relatively few messages of interest.

So while I can’t claim expert status at this time, I understand what is going on well enough to begin clarifying how I plan to rework my lists. I plan to isolate the strategic relationships from the miscellanea, which will take research and effort.

Social networking can serve many roles beyond business, from keeping in touch with friends and family to enjoying hobby interests. All of these interests are fine but they don’t count as work. And they don’t count as marketing.

It’s quality of connections, not quantity.

What would Betty Friedan do?

The panel referred to at the beginning of this article is not unusual. I’ve heard the same advice repeatedly. And I notice that a majority of those giving this advice are female (though I don’t have precise figures).

I don’t think this is coincidence. Stay with me here for some historical perspective.

My early formative years preceded the modern women’s movement, which kicked off with the publication of Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique in 1963. I was raised to consider teaching and nursing as my career choices.

As women’s lib developed, women’s constricted career ambitions were attributed to the lack of role models. Most women didn’t see women doctors, lawyers and business executives so they did not aspire to these careers themselves, said feminists.

But there’s another reason why women were drawn to certain jobs. They were subtly yet powerfully steered toward the feel-good of helping professions regardless of low pay.

When I was in college, almost every woman, when asked to explain how she chose a career direction, responded that she was studying teaching, nursing, social work or whatever to “help people.” Men rarely cited this reason behind career decisions, or at least they weren’t so altruistic as to ignore income potential. Doctors cure people, lawyers defend the innocent, but these professionals (usually male at the time) saw no conflict between helping others and high income goals. In female professions, it was bad form to even talk about income expectations.

So now we have lots of people teaching strategic social marketing who favor almost indiscriminant helping and befriending with minimal strategy. And by the way, many of these “people” just happen to be women.

Originally posted 12-1-09

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