Today’s post is a little more personal than most of the articles I publish here. It’s about the power of saying goodbye – both professionally and personally.
Saying goodbye is not something I’m comfortable with. I’m much more of a hello person. A diagnosed “extreme-extravert” (Myers Briggs: ENTP), I prefer starting new relationships and growing my network more than I do ending and restricting them. It’s how I’ve managed my entire personal and professional life.
I never settled into any one clique when I was in high school for example, preferring to be part of many groups. And it served me very well. Professionally, I rarely say no to a new opportunity, even when I know it may be too small for my business to handle or when I instinctively know that I can make more money elsewhere. I like to lift rocks and see what’s underneath each – you never know what you’ll find. You’ll not be surprised that a box of Cracker Jacks was my favorite treat as a kid.
The Contradiction of Social Media
Be it life experiences or just the cynic in me, it seems that those days are over. The world is changing and creating a contradiction of concepts for people. We have the technology to discover and connect with more people, yet have fewer hours in the day to actually connect. We’re gamified into growing our networks and rewarded for our access to larger communities, it seems size does matter; or does it?
The contradiction is that the more people we know, the less “connected” we truly are. Social media is a valuable tool for personal and professional communications and, quite frankly, intoxicating. We’re reconnecting with lost friends from the past all while connecting to potential employers and/or clients. And we can do this while crushing confectionary in the Candy Crush Saga game and keeping tabs on the Kardashians. What a wonderful world it’s become.
Extroverts revel in the opportunity to talk to more people and introverts secretly revel in their ability to play extroverts through power of social networking on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. We connect more but are also creating more noise in the form of gossip, purposeless content, and false information. We know more people, yet bullying, depression, and suicides attributed to social media are on the rise.
Celebrity status is awarded to those who play the game and grow their networks, regardless of the quality of those networks. Publishers race to social celebrities with book deals regardless of their real-life credibility and experiences and then complain that books are not being well-received. Businesses are paying these social celebrities to advocate for their brands and are surprised when they can’t directly link that advocacy to bottom-line results.
The Wakeup Call
Over the last few years, as social media has continued to grow my personal and professional network, I’ve run into a wall. It was the wakeup call I needed. I was forced to say goodbye to friends, business partners, and clients.
I didn’t want to do this but I found that I had to for a variety of reasons. With a larger volume of personal connections came more expectations on my time. Everyone wants something – your comments or “Likes”, your time, your ear. There are hidden expectations built into the acceptance of a Facebook “Friend Request.” Casual friends are best friends. Connection means community and community means we all must agree. A request for your time and approval are required on-demand or the social media drama is unleashed.
On a professional front, I’ve found that relationships with business partners and clients that were first forged in social channels were not based in reality. Social media provides people and businesses the opportunity to create, manage, and sell their perceived reality. Over time, if done well, their perception becomes your reality – until it’s not.
The curtain is eventually parted and you see the wizard for what he or she is, just another person who got wrapped up into the false promise of social media.
It’s hard to say goodbye. Social media is training us to say hello, not goodbye. Friending someone and “Liking” something on Facebook is actively encouraged with almost-flashing neon signs. How to unfriend someone isn’t as well-advertised. We’re accepting bullying and online trolls in the name of larger networks and community building, when it’s not OK.
An “Expert’s” Point of View
Due to the years I’ve been involved in the sales and marketing game, the years I’ve been involved in social media for myself and for my clients, as well as the fact that I’ve published a business book on the subject of Influence Marketing, I’m often cited as an expert in the field. I’m uncomfortable with that title because often those who call me this don’t really know if I am or am not. They just know my name, the fact I’ve had a book published or the size of my community. They don’t really have substantial proof of my personal or professional success or the results I’ve achieved for my clients in this business. Yet, somehow, I’m an “expert.” That’s the power of social “bandwagonism” and community building.
“It’s a good thing.” – Martha Stewart
Whether you consider me an expert or not, let me share some wisdom from the years I’ve been at this game; saying goodbye is powerful. Smaller communities are often better communities, they can foster stronger and deeper relationships and smaller communities can provide greater value for both you and your business. That’s been my experience.
As difficult as it was for me to unfriend or unfollow people on social networks, refuse to submit a proposal to a client I didn’t really want, or walk away from businesses and partners that were dragging me down, I’m a better off today as result. And maybe they are too.
Every door I’ve closed on a thin or invaluable personal or professional relationship has afforded me the opportunity to walk through many other doors that were always open but I didn’t have the time to see them or consider walking through. I’m better off. I’ve never been in better place personally or professionally. I’m surrounded by a smaller group of people today whom I’ve carefully selected that add value to my life and I trust I provide that value back.
Our increasingly interconnected world is driving us to build larger and larger communities. I’m in favor of this; it’s a very powerful tool. However, saying goodbye is equally powerful. In many cases it’s more powerful. I know, this is not a new lesson or new wisdom but something that we need to relearn in the face of growing pressure to increase the size of our communities.
What’s the value in a community of strangers?
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego