Are You Interested in People or is it Just About You?

When I began writing my book, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I naively thought I simply would send it off to an agent and that would be that—I could begin writing the next book, which will be a novel.  As I studied numerous publishing-related books—obtaining an agent; what publishers expect of an author, including marketing; the all-important platform; creating a book proposal; plus a number of other things—I realized how wrong I’d been, how deeply involved I’d need to be long after writing the opus, especially in the area of marketing and networking….

I began networking on Twitter in May, 2011, so I now have five-and-a-half months experience under my belt.  I’ve done some networking on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, but not nearly as much as Twitter (truly, it isn’t easy to teach an old dog new tricks!).  I’ve spotted some interesting trends during those five-and-a-half months.  It may come across as a cliché to you but there are two types of people on Twitter: those who are interested in actually connecting with their followers, and those who care only about enhancing themselves, pushing their agenda.  What’s so amazing to me about that is this: a good number of the “it’s all about me” people should know better: they’re sales experts, trainers of the highest order, yet when it comes to networking, they don’t practice what they preach.

When they go to their clients, they teach them that the relationship must come first, that great selling is all about putting the customer’s needs first, making them paramount; yet at networking they do the opposite.  They either ignore you when you click on their Follow button, or send out a short “Thanks for following,” along with a link sending you to something they want you to read or sell to you.  Not a word about you—who are you?  Tell me about yourself; what can I do to help, be supportive of you?  How can I make a positive difference in your life?  No, just a bunch of ME, ME, ME!  Ugh!

I was talking about all this with a sensational woman, Nancy Kramer from Truman College in Chicago.  She asked me how I was going about the Twitter process and I told her that I was trying to connect with each follower on a personal level, offering as much help, support as I can muster; that I was having telephone conversations with many of them; that I was making friends all over the world; that I was influencing lives for the better.  This is what she said to me: “It sounds like you’ve used the modern method of electronically connecting with people and coupled it with your old method during your selling career of personally connecting with people.”  She’d gotten it exactly right—smart woman!

The following is a typical message (often in two or three parts) I send out when someone follows me on Twitter: “Thanks for following: I’ve reciprocated.  Please write to and tell me all about yourself.  If there’s any way I can help, be supportive, don’t hesitate to ask.  That’s what my retirement career is all about—helping people.”  Sometimes I specifically say I’d like to get to know them and even give my telephone number.

So, do you care about others or are they there to just serve your purpose, your agenda?  Remember, the irony is this: the best way to serve your purpose, obtain what you want, is to help others get what they want.  If you’ll concentrate on paying it forward, it’ll come back to you in buckets.  Maybe not directly from the sources you put your efforts into, but IT WILL COME BACK TO YOU, I promise!

It’s sort of like jumping out of an airplane with a parachute—you have to trust the parachute will open.

I’d love to have your input on this; what do you think?