The basketball player Jeremy Lin rode the bench for his first few years playing professional basketball. This Asian-American had graduated from Harvard and simply did not fit the mold of what most coaches and scouts viewed as NBA material. He was just about to retire from the game completely when his moment arrived. With their star players riddled with injuries, the New York Knicks had no choice but to put him in the game. Suddenly, not only was he off the bench, he soon made the starting lineup and led the Knicks on a major winning streak referred to as Linsanity. The preconceived notions about Asian-Americans’ athleticism in basketball kept a major talent on the bench for years. Similarly, the biases professionals have about social media keeps far too many talented people on the sidelines. Here are four such idiotic excuses keeping talented people offline.
1. I’m better in person
When people avoid social media because they feel they are better in person, I compare this to people who don’t fly to Hawaii because they prefer swimming. Technology allows us to communicate to a massive audience in ways that aren’t possible in person. If you are great in person, be great in person, but don’t exclude yourself from benefiting from social media because you happen to be great in social situations. Most people that are great in person leverage personality and intelligence to their advantage in the world of social media. The medium may be different, but those same skills will help you stand out and be successful.
2. I’m too busy to use social media
To continue with the analogies, saying you’re too busy for social media is like saying you have too much work to hire a second employee. Social media has a multiplicative effect. Something you write or post to social media can be passed on and shared over and over. Many people worry about the negative side of this, but professionals can leverage this to their advantage. LinkedIn has a new feature that shows you how many of your contacts have viewed something you have shared and then how many second degree contacts have viewed what you posted. A recent post I made to LinkedIn received over 3,200 views. Notice, most of them didn’t even come from my network, they came from friends-of-friends or second-degree connections. The power of social media is the networks’ effects—your messages can reach far beyond you.
3. People will think I don’t have work if I am posting to social media
Have you ever heard the saying, “all publicity is good publicity?” That saying is derived from the fact that it is nearly impossible to get people to pay attention to something other than their own lives and problems. The key here is that people need to think of you to hire you, and it is far more likely you are being forgotten than that you are being noticed. Social media gives people a natural way to express who you are and what you do. According to LinkedIn, fewer than 3% of users post on a weekly basis, so it’s not hard to stand out by sharing. If what you post is great information, people will be appreciative of the effort you put into sharing. Stop worrying about what people will think of you, and start working harder at getting them to think of you at all.
4. I’m a very private person
A great job for a private person is an analyst, a researcher, or maybe a mountaineer. If you have chosen to be a professional that derives your income from relationships to bring in business, you can’t have the luxury of being completely private. One lawyer I’ve known for years shared with me, “I don’t want to put a picture of myself on LinkedIn.” He explained that he was a very private person. This same lawyer wanted to be interviewed on CNN. See the disconnect? You can’t be both private and want to build a public reputation? You can absolutely set boundaries though. You will never see my posting pictures of my family to Twitter or LinkedIn, but on Facebook where I have my privacy settings turned on, I’ll share more of my private life. You can’t have it both ways though, if you want to build your reputation, social media is key in 2017 and will mostly likely continue to be for the foreseeable future.
Jeremy Lin almost lost his chance to be an NBA start because of biases that were simply false. Don’t miss the opportunity to hit your full potential by refusing to participate in social media.