Batting a thousand

Today I reached 1,000 followers on Twitter. My 1000th follower is a New York Mets fan site. Play ball!  

I tip my cap to them and my 999 other followers who listen to what I have to say. So what do I have to say today? Tonight’s topic is TMI. That’s “too much information” in case you didn’t know.

Sure, everyone has the right to comment on social media sites. We share photos, videos, news articles. Sometimes we even learn something. But when someone continuously posts updates about his bodily functions (or the lack thereof in this particular person’s case), that’s where I draw the line. The word “enema” should NEVER be used in a status update. If you’re constipated, I do NOT want to know about it. Keep it to yourself. If you need to vent, phone a friend or better yet, go to a doctor!

What I’m shaking my head over is that this should really be common sense. But some people don’t get it. Or they do get it but they don’t care. Or they need attention. In any event, my advice to everyone is think before you post. Is what you’re writing something you would want to read about?

Another habit many people are guilty of is over-venting. Yes, we all have bad days, but if you dwell on them too much on social media, you could come off as a complainer. Always try to limit your rants otherwise people will see you as a negative person. Remember – you’re projecting a particular image on social media. What if your boss reads your negative rants? Or a potential client or business partner? Or your mother? Think of it this way – do you constantly want to listen to a friend/colleague/loved one complain all the time? Probably not. Well it’s the same situation on social media: if you’re too negative, people will eventually tune you out and stop following you. It just gets old.

Before posting any social media content, think about what you want your readers to get out of it. Are you trying to raise awareness about a particular issue/current events? Do you want to share a funny video to give people a chuckle? (Sometimes I can’t resist sharing the Geico Hump Day commercial on a Wednesday). Your goal should be to educate, entertain, or in some cases, promote (it’s okay to market yourself – hey we all have some service or event we need to promote sometimes).

And finally, beware of over-sharing. If you’re out having a great time at a new local restaurant you’re trying, by all means, take a selfie and give the place a plug. But leave it at that, please. Otherwise, social media can become disruptive and interfere with your face-to-face interactions. It’s much more engaging to share a meal with another human being across the table rather than your smartphone. Just some food for thought.

 

 

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Don’t let the grapes go sour

wine-grapesI felt inspired to post this after a recent Facebook experience with one of my old broadcasting contacts. I had lost touch with him after a few years so I decided to reconnect with him on Facebook to say hi and schmooze a bit.

He accepted my friend request immediately and a few minutes later, began instant messaging me. I’m not a huge fan of IM (especially when I’m trying to meet a writing deadline), but what the heck. I decided to engage in a chat with him, and to my surprise, the happy-go-lucky, easygoing guy had turned quite negative.

As it turned out, he was let go from his on-air radio gig a year earlier and has been trying to find work every since. So I tried giving him a pep talk, stressing his strongest skills while – from a social standpoint – advising him on various spots in the city that he could still frequent without breaking the bank. My encouraging words were met with a smiley emoticon and that was that.

In the days and weeks following our exchange, I couldn’t help but notice a plethora of status updates on his timeline – each one darker than the last one – especially cutting remarks about hiring managers who had turned him down for jobs. He even went as far as saying he was going to de-friend anyone who viewed his posts as negative. And he did!

While social media can be a good source of online therapy (which I’ve mentioned before), there is a danger of crossing the line. You cannot be too negative or else you’ll come across as bitter. And if you vent too much – like criticizing recruiters or other potential job sources – who the heck is going to want to hire you?

Sure, you can change your settings to private, but we all know that a good deal of our Facebook friends are present and former colleagues in the biz. Word gets around. It isn’t long before others get wind of your rants.

Instead of venting on social media, keep your rants offline. That way, you don’t risk tarnishing your image. Remember: there’s no crying in freelance life! You chose this lifestyle so it’s important to keep a stiff upper lift and roll with the punches. You’ll be stronger for it in the end.

The 3 C’s Every Freelancer Needs to Follow

Freelance life can be isolating at times, especially if you tend to work from home like I do. The solution: to stay as connected as possible.

Connectivity is critical when you’re trying to maintain steady work. No longer can you only rely on word-of-mouth and your tried-and-true clients or production companies who have always called you for work. Budgets are shrinking. No one is spending money like they used to. So it’s up to us as freelancers to build new relationships.

That’s where social media comes into play, helping us foster a sense of community where we can network, share knowledge and create conversations.

Sure, everyone and his brother are on Facebook but let’s face it, the majority of reasons why people are on there are to coo over their kids or brag about the wonderful meals they’re eating or the new cars they’re driving. In other words, Facebook is more for personal use.

If you want to create a sense of community with people in your field, Twitter and LinkedIn are the way to go, hands down. On LinkedIn, you can even join groups specific to your line of work. But I’m sure many of you know that already.

As for Twitter, I am amazed how many freelancers I encounter who are still unsure about how to take advantage of the popular social media tool. I suppose the problem might be that many feel it’s a tool for celebrities to boast about their latest projects or to incite feuds (such as the recent one between Kanye West and Jimmy Kimmel; the two have kissed and made up since then). Or perhaps people feel stifled since there’s a 140 character limit. Whatever the reason, people need to start using Twitter more.

I use it to link to articles I’ve written or to promote an event I’m covering. I also live tweet during conferences or television programs – any instance where my commentary might grab the attention of someone influential. In some cases, you may even get a re-tweet! Just don’t forget those hash tags so you can be a part of trending conversations.

While on the subject of Twitter, I have to give a shout out to The IC Crowd in London: Rachel Miller, Jenni Wheller and Dana Leeson are three lovely ladies who work in internal communication. They started The IC Crowd as a way to connect others who work in the field; much of the conversations they create occur on Twitter (and will soon continue on Google+). Since launching The IC Crowd a little over a year ago, Miller, Wheller and Leeson have worked to move the online conversations offline, hosting a Xmas drinks networking function as well as an unconference.

On this side of the pond, the Freelancers Union (headquartered in Brooklyn), often helps freelancers connect via networking events and other helpful resources.

So if you have connectivity and a sense of community with your peers, there’s a good chance collaboration will follow – the final C that you need to be aware of. With increased online exposure and regular networking, you’ll be able to stay up-to-date on who’s working on what and whether or not there might be an opportunity for you to contribute to a new project.

And of course, dropping some emails to your existing network of contacts never hurts either!