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April 20, 2014

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From the Publisher:

Getting to know you with social media

It’s one of those things you hear more often than not when interviewing applicants for sales positions, usually after you’ve asked why you should choose them for your opening.

“Because I’m a people person,” they smile, as though this means success in sales.

But it doesn’t. In fact, precisely because they have a need to be liked by others, a lot of “people persons” actually struggle with the closing part of the sales process, the part where they ask the prospect to either accept or reject the offer.

In sales, anyone who takes rejection personally is going to be reluctant to risk rejection, will have trouble building revenues and may soon be on another career path.

We’re not all sellers, but most of us are to some extent people persons, or we would have trouble adapting to a workplace, or a busy shopping mall or even society itself. And because the world is so full of people persons, we have found all sorts of new ways to chat in the world of social media.

According to Wikipedia, “social media” are various forms of information content created by people using easily accessible publishing technologies. They’re intended to promote communications and interaction between peers and with audiences. And social media typically rely on the Web and mobile communications networks as their distribution systems.

Convenient examples of social media include blogs, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter, and my current favorite, Facebook. However, there are numerous other examples as well; in fact, social media are multiplying daily, even as I write this.

My own initiation came with LinkedIn, which is a business networking system, but offers noncommercial benefits as well. On the recommendation of a vagabond with a laptop, I signed up, excited about the idea of receiving important messages from my many new business associates. It seemed simple enough.

When it didn’t happen, I tried to figure out why the connections weren’t connecting. Turns out that in this busy company, I have 14 e-mail addresses. And in a careless moment — probably while wading through queues of e-mails on truly important topics — I had mistakenly given a different e-mail address for a LinkedIn account and somehow started a whole new account. And then I did it again. Oops. Sorry.

It was a simple error, and even though the LinkedIn team said it had never happened before, one I can easily explain if you give me the time. But as a result, instead of impersonally welcoming new business friends to my network, many of them can’t connect with me and end up getting rejections I did not intend. Which they sometimes take personally.

“I saw where you rejected me on LinkedIn,” one community leader recently said.

“I didn’t mean to,” I said.

“Uh huh,” he replied.

“Not good enough for you to link with, huh?” one woman said.

Plaxo, another option, promotes itself as offering the chance for a user to “stay in touch with people you care about.” It has not been as easy to screw up, but then, I don’t use it. Other people in town do, though, and through Plaxo I am reminded about their birthdays. Which is OK. On behalf of its users, it also sends persistent requests for me to update my contact information. Which is annoying.

I thought I knew a lot of people, and thought I knew some of them well, but I didn’t realize how much I was missing until I was introduced to Facebook. Through it, I discovered new worlds — universes, actually — I never knew existed.

Facebook takes it all to the next level. Since I’ve seen so many of you on Facebook, I know that many readers already use it. Registration is easy, and you build a network simply by sending people an invitation to be your friend. Once you’re friends, you can keep up with each other’s minutiae. Messages and updates are easy to post.

Some are valuable. Many are not.

“I’m not doing anything right now,” one attorney admitted on Facebook. “Nothing. Zip. I am just sitting here.”

“It’s 1:45 a.m.,” a former co-worker wrote, “and everybody else in the house is asleep, but not me.”

“I am going to a movie and then I am going to take a nap,” a faraway cousin let me know.

Perhaps this is the way it is with Facebook: Truly busy people, the ones you need to keep up with, do not have time to post regular messages, and must leave this duty to insomniacs, the sedentary and the idle. But then again, they’re probably all people persons.

Bruce Spotleson is group publisher of In Business Las Vegas.

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