It is just awesome to see that so many more people are jumping into social networks (from my perspective anyway as an early adopter). I also think that it is awesome that people are finding “their purpose” in how “they will utilize” social networking. Some are strictly looking at networks as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, others are investigating and experimenting with ways to start connecting through modern channels of communication, maintain or build a business or brand. Whatever the “purpose”, folks are finding out that it is likely a place that they need to hang out, be present and have a voice in a conversation. Those that get social also see it as a place of discovery. How you use a channel is personal. There might be some best practices and base lines, but really, those that get social, make it work for them in their own unique way. How often, how much, to whom, on what platform, on what topic, how much you share. It is all about what you decide as someone that wants to get social.

“Purpose” might sound a little lofty or serious but I truly believe that those that get social understand that there is a channel purpose in their communications. Those that get social have a reason to be in that social network, rather than just lurking about. Ha…not that lurking for information and insight is not purposeful ! I just believe that those that get social understand the power of conversation and the dialogue that ensues.

I have even found through some of my projects that the traditional connections of email or voice mail are less effective than reaching out via social networks. I have come to utilize Twitter as one of my key communication channels for my business, and for the business of my clients. Communication ? It’s a least a micro news feed or flash point for seeing what conversations are emerging. Those that get social get dip in and dip out of these conversations and extend it to other channels if truly interested in engaging. I find that when I tweet someone either @ or DM that more than 50% of the time there is a response. What is your response rate on the last few emails or voice mails that you left ?  And how timely were the responses ? Those that get social are in the moment because that moment in time is important to jump into the conversation in that moment.

Those that get social determine what works for them. Twitter might just be a quick search on newsworthy items. LinkedIN is perhaps more of a professional hook up for a solid follow up on business leads. Blogs might be a platform to show your work and speak at great length about things important to you and your business or ideals. Those that get social with Facebook might make it highly personal, event based or totally business, or a nice mix of it all. Those that get social figure out their purpose quickly and as Chris Brogan would suggest – determine their home base and outpost balance in the face of what they need to communicate, to whom and how often.

Often times, when reaching out through government relations contacts, there is a maze of red tape one must weave through to get in touch with the thought leaders. In fact, I truly wonder how one might actually get through to the “thought leader” vs. their handlers or staff. I know that the reality is that most correspondance is “handled” by a staffer. Good old time politicos probably get a glance at the incoming and outgoing communications…but my feeling (and it’s just a feeling) is that many of these communications are managed at arms length from the actual person.  I don’t blame the politcial world for this. I think it is quite common in the corporate world as well. I know of one exception !  My former boss at Molson Coors in Canada – Dave Perkins – liked to be in communication with our retirees. He insisted that his direct phone line would be available on all communications and he took the calls ! Rather than filter communications on the way in to him, he’d assign tasks for follow up. I’ve got to say that our retiree community was very impressed with his openness and accessibility. This could apply to political figures and other corporate leaders. Daunting ? Yes ! But those that get social understand it is really about the conversation not the handling. Part of the handling is grounded in authenticity and genuine response and follow up. Frankly….I think that is a rarity and I’d challenge corporate leaders and politicians to prove me wrong on that front ! I’d love to hear of plenty examples where the thought leaders are truly connected with their communities, in real time, in the moment. Those that get social, like those in customer service understand that the follow up is where the gold and nuggets of opportunity exist. The ability to listen, to hear and respond can only lead to opportunity.

So…what’ my point ? My point is that, those that get social are truly “turned on” within their social networks.  They take the time to monitor their social channels, whether through notifications, or just planning a daily time in their calendar to see what conversation is taking place. Actual people at the other end of Twitter profiles and social network profiles responding to incoming traffic is powerful and it helps build trust and enduring meaningful relationships. Whether on Twitter or LinkedIN, I find that more times than not, the actual person is the responding individual. OR…you might at least believe that your tweet got seen or heard by the individual (even if they chose not to respond to you). Those that get social and choose to be open to communication will be open to being in the conversation versus being outside the conversation. I know where I’d rather be ! What is your level of comfort or need to know in getting social ? I’d love to have a conversation with you about that. Cheers.  @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork