See the connection? (Probably not yet, but be patient…I’ll get there).

As a former apartment dweller and a college student making the trek to the laundry room, I recall perusing the cork-covered bulletin board while killing time during the rinse cycle.

ImageWhat did I see? A collection of signs with tear-off phone numbers, providing access to used sofas, pleas for roommates, lost dog information and a panoply of related requests and announcements.

Some time ago, I used a BBS to gather useful advice on improving my marathon performance (a goal that has since gone “the way of all flesh”…these days, I’m happy to finish standing up!). Amazingly, I received quite a collection of helpful advice and support. Since that time, I have come to see the multitude of Social Media applications (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc., etc.) as the 21st century replacements for that corkboard that had served so well.

Allow me to suggest some key points on using a digital thumb tack to post your “sign” at the new “Laundromat”.

  • Be professional. As you request insight and advice or referral (please, NEVER job leads!), be aware of the sacrifice these people are making in sharing their perspectives with you.
  • Use these tools with discretion. If your every communication is to “get something,” you will soon be branded as a “user,” and rightfully so.
  • Always, always be appreciative. A simple “thank you” (taking precious little of your time) can cause you to stand out from the teeming mass of “gimmes” out there.
  • Participate in groups as an advocate and contributor. Don’t be a “cyber stalker.”
  • Pay it forward. For every time you to seek to gain, find at least two times you can give.

Please don’t take this metaphor too far. If you have an ottoman for sale, I really don’t want to read about it on LinkedIn. However, at the same time, Social Media can present an extraordinary goldmine of information, advice and referral that would take months, perhaps even years to unearth without it.

…I’ll be watching for your “ad.”

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