Fifty years ago this week, a young Catholic man from Boston named John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as President of the United States of America. The day of his inauguration was frigidly cold and blindingly bright, two contrasting conditions that pretty well sum up his presidency, if you think about it. People don’t really remember, though, what the temperature was that day. It’s not even an oft-repeated part of our nation’s folklore that poet extraordinaire Robert Frost couldn’t see the paper on which he had written his poem specifically for this occasion. No, what people remember about JFK’s first and only inauguration day is his plea – “Ask not what your country can do for you,” and his proclamation, “A torch is passed.”
In Social Media, the concept of passing the torch is an integral part of the fabric of this world. I would know very little if people had been unwilling to pass their knowledge on to me. I’d have very little to say if I wasn’t interested in passing on what I’ve learned to others. Are you passing the torch?
How do you pass the torch in Social Media?
You’ve probably heard broad statements during your time in Social Media, statements like, “Give everything away” or “Give to get.” What does that really mean, though? How can you give while still building your business or your brand? How can you pass the torch without giving away the store? More to the point, how do you pass the torch while avoiding the pitfall of simply repackaging what others have said before? Here are some ideas.
• Offer advice as you have lived it: There is a lot of advice flying around in this space, but no one has adjusted quite like you did. Instead of offering buzz words, explain how you got to where you are. What worked? What didn’t?
• Don’t try to be everything to everyone: It’s tempting, when you are finding your place online, to try to be the expert at everything. You want to be the expert on Twitter, then Facebook, then blogging. This ambition can cost you credibility. Bow to others who know more about certain areas. When it comes to Facebook, for example, few people I know exceed Tommy Walker’s knowledge. When it comes to Google Analytics, I can’t think of anyone who offers more expertise than Avinash Kaushik. Don’t pass a torch you don’t have.
• Don’t squirrel away all of your secrets: It’s true that we all have a secret sauce that allows us to succeed as we do. However, there is plenty that you can tell people without offering those precise measurements that make you you. If you found shortcuts or if you found huge traps over your time in this world, let people know. Send out warnings or tips at will.
• Look for ways to help: This doesn’t mean that you always have the answer yourself. Passing the torch can mean that you share your networking or your community with someone. You share your awareness of that person’s expertise.
• Always give the gift of you: The best single way to make sure you aren’t just repackaging someone’s stale advice is to be genuinely, authentically, certifiably you. Nobody is experiencing things exactly as you are. No one has your voice. No one has your personality. When you offer advice or tips or warnings or consultation, make it come from you.
Don’t doubt you have something to offer
JFK was the youngest president elected up to that time – you could say it was pretty audacious of him to announce that he was grasping the torch of his generation. You might think it’s crazy to think that you have enough knowledge and experience to be able to pass anything on. But you’re wrong.
Not only are there tons of people joining this world who are newer than you, but there are also people who have been here longer who don’t know what your experience is. We just know how it was for us. What trials and tribulations are you experiencing? How are you working around them? This is important, because no one has done exactly what you’re doing before. You have something unique to pass on right from the start.
Here’s a challenge for you for this week. Pass the torch on to just 1 person. Whether it’s answering a question, writing a blog post with a person in mind, or cheering someone on who is having a hard time breaking in, pass the torch. Pass on some knowledge. Pass on your perspective. And tell your story here in the comments.
Do we have a deal?