Getting it. NOT.

Getting it. NOT.

Social Media has enabled us to open our mouths extra wide in order to stick the maximum number of feet inside.  I’ve strangely grown a certain taste for shoe leather… which explains why I’m writing this post.

Two days, two conversations.  In both cases, the persons speaking with me said that they were “on board” with my thinking.

This isn’t a post about me being right and everyone else being wrong – my wife is writing THAT post (rim shot).  Rather, this is simply an observation that people say one thing, but their commitment to action belie their true interest and intent.

In one case, the parties on the other end of our conversation had talked with my past business partners, had read (and spoke directly and pointedly) about my blog, and quoted specific twitter posts I had written to bolster their claim of moving in the same direction.

In the other case, a lot of lip service was paid to being on the same page about a new project… but in truth, we were operating on different planes of reality.  There is no blame to bear, other than the classic pitfall of being approachable, and people mistaking that for gullability.

As someone keenly attuned to bringing in more money than I spend, it’s always instructive to note how people value (or not) other people’s time.  Seth Godin had a great short post about this very thing a couple of days ago.

In the first conversation that I mentioned, said value was mentioned, and at the end of the allotted time we adjourned to continue later – on time, on task, and with a conscious effort to respect each other’s time.

In the second conversation, we talked about this respect, while discussing why our regularly scheduled meeting was being postponed for yet another week in a line of missed meetings.

One of these conversations is going to lead to a great relationship.  And one of these is leading no where, fast.

I wish there was some magic one could use to sniff out those time wasting endeavors ahead of time, before time, talent, and treasure are spent drilling empty holes in the ground.

But there is no magic to be had for building relationships – virtually or in the flesh – one fulfilled commitment at a time.

All we can really do is to try and “lower the water level to see where the rocks are” as quickly as we can, qualify what if any upside is to be had ongoing with our relationships, and then commit – and not only commit, execute upon – promises made to our partners with our full attention and talent.

Engagement: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Engagement: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Vizzini: Inconceivable!

Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means.

– The Princess Bride

Anyone who has seen the movie The Princess Bride understands the humor in Vizzini the Sicilian’s exclamation; he has uttered “Inconceivable!” a dozen times in the movie, only to have what he deems to be “Inconceivable” become not only the possible but reality.

Social Media mavens /pundits / gurus /strategists are a bit like Vizzini in that they tend to think words means things they actually do not.

For example: Engagement. To most of the world, the word engagement entails a reciprical arrangement where something is expected of both sides. However, in the context of social media, what engagement usually means is that people are merely exposed to each other in some way, but very little is expected of any given social contact. I can Twitter til my fingers fall off, you may be following me, you may think we’re engaged, when in fact you may never respond to me. Some consider that engagement. It most definitely is not.

Another example: Friend. In most of the world, a friend is a person who will do most anything for you, regardless of personal consequence, because of amity, love, and dedication. There is prevenient trust implied. In the context of social networking, a friend is at best what one would call an acquaintance in the real world and implies only that a person known as a friend in any given nexus of the social graph is simply allowed access to you and your personal information with no expectation whatsoever of reciprocity or even fair treatment.

In short, social networking uses many real world words to imply the concept of trust and relationship, when in fact nothing of the sort exists online. You can no more “trust” someone you don’t know online without context, contact, and prevenient /pre-existing relationships. Yet, each social networking silo tries to mask this weakness by following, friending, trusting, joining, inviting.

Just because we call something by a name does not make it that name.

Social networking tends to amplify and force multipy our baser and better natures, but what it cannot do is short circuit the building of meaningful relationships.

That still takes time and active reciprocity.