Today’s Two for Tuesdays comes via a suggestion from my friend, Nancy Myrland (@nancymyrland), who is helping me battle today’s writer’s block! She recommended I look at two ways to build social equity – social equity is generally considered to be a term of use in social media, whereby you build your credibility online to increase your perceived value by others. But it can also apply in all networking and business that we do – how do we get people to perceive us as valuable to them?
Tip One: Say Thank You!
This may be an obvious one, but I can almost count on one hand the number of times people have thanked me when I’ve helped them with something, so it IS a noticeable trait. And you can use it in a number of ways:
- When you ask someone a question, via phone or email – whether it’s for a referral, an answer to a query, or something else – just say or write "thank you" in return. It takes moments only, but it makes such a huge difference. When someone thanks me for helping them, I know my work is appreciated, I’m more likely to help them again in the future (and do so in a speedy manner), and it raises my opinion of them.
Additionally, in this day and age, email is fairly ubiquitous. And although it’s become far more reliable, there are still many, many situations where an email will go missing and not reach its intended target. So the "thank you" not only expresses your gratitude, but it also confirms with the other party that you received their message and it’s not off floating unseen in the ether somewhere.
- When someone does something really nice for you – sends you a big referral, invites you to speak on a high profile panel, involves you in an event or conference where you meet some excellent contacts – go the extra mile and write a handwritten thank you note. I do this periodically after ILN conferences, and include some photos of the person that I took at the event. It’s a memorable way to show your gratitude – not only are you doing the right thing, and being nice, but you’re also standing out from the crowd, so that person will remember you the next time they are looking for a lawyer in that area, or someone to do a favor for.
- When someone shares your material online, by retweeting a blog post, posting your latest article on LinkedIn or Facebook, etc., make sure to take a moment to say thank you. Again, it’s just a way to build your social equity online, to show people that you’re not just a faceless internet account pushing out your own information and never engaging with anyone.
When you make "thank you" a regular part of your conversations, not only is it just the right and polite thing to do, but it raises peoples’ opinions of you, helps to make you more memorable, and takes almost no time at all.
Tip Two: Be Helpful
Being helpful is another important part of building strong social equity – and this is again true of online and in-person situations.
- Share online: As Kevin O’Keefe (@kevinokeefe) said in his webinar last week (recapped here in case you haven’t seen it yet), if you’re not sharing other people’s insight online, it’s basically like walking into a cocktail party and reading your own content – sure, you’ll be remembered, but for all the wrong reasons.
If you really want to be considered a thought leader, someone who is smart and worth listening to online, you have to share everything that might be of use to your audience – that means some of your own material and a lot of other people’s material. Consider yourself to be a repository of information in your area of expertise, and share, share, share everything you can find in that arena.
This doesn’t have to be complicated or hard – as Kevin also explained in his webinar, you can easily set up searches in your RSS reader for sources and subjects, all of which will then be delivered to you, and you can pick and choose what to forward to everyone else. Easy peasy, as my mom would say.
- In-person: Don’t just leave this online though, be helpful in person as well!
- Find an article that might be of use to someone? Cut it out and send it to them (you can also use that article as fodder for a blog post with your thoughts included, but that’s another post altogether).
- When you see something that benefits someone, send them a quick email with the link and say you were thinking of them.
- Speaking on a conference panel that needs a few more smart people? Reach out to a colleague or friend who would make sense as another speaker to offer them the opportunity. You’re helping both that person AND the conference organizers.
- Know someone looking for more information on a subject, and know the expert in that area? Connect them through email or social media.
When you’re always looking for ways to help other people, either by connecting them with the right people, sharing information with them, or just doing them a favor, not only are you being a nice person, but you’re also raising your social equity. You’re making yourself memorable by being helpful. Not only will the other person remember you when something comes up that they might need your assistance with, but they also have a more favorable impression of you, which makes them naturally want to return the favor, look for ways to send you business, and help you to achieve your goals.
In fact, although I have yet to read it, author, speaker, entrepreneur, and all around nice guy, Peter Shankman (@petershankman), recently wrote "Nice Companies Finish First," on the very notion that competition is out in favor of collaboration. So I’m not the only one to think that being nice will help you professionally, as well as let you sleep peaceably at night. I know Peter’s work well through his blog posts and social media conversations, so I know that his book will offer similar value.
What are your tips for building social equity? Feel free to add them in the comments!