Habit Six is called “Synergize.” You’ve heard a lot of athletes at least pay lip service to this concept. As a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, of course, I am hearing a lot about how the Cavs as a team are much more than just the part that was LeBron James. Well, we shall see about that. In Social Media, it’s easy to get distracted by the individual parts. Especially our own individual parts. However, like in real life, if we can synergize – or to put it another way, if we can create a community – we are on a path towards effectiveness.
A synergistic community. Exit, stage left.
Sometimes, it’s hard to visualize a community when it comes to Social Media. This is especially true if you haven’t met a lot of the people you talk to in real life, I think. For the most part, if you think about it, Social Media is about you, crouched down on a bus or on a train or in some room of your abode, typing. Your lips aren’t moving. Your ears aren’t engaged, or if they are, they are engaged with something that supplements your communications. So how can you synergize if you aren’t really of the people you are surrounding yourself with?
First, let’s talk about some easy pitfalls that can prevent this from happening.
Hi, I’m an expert: If you present yourself as the all-knowing, perfect, beyond reproach expert, you are not sending out a vibe that your community consists of more than you. You are saying that your head takes up so much space there might not be room for anyone else. As previously mentioned, the same holds true if you fashion yourself a guru, a lord, a Jedi Master, or anything else that one might tie to the idea of dominance.
Hi, you’re probably better than me in every way: This one is really easy to fall into when you first enter this space. There are so many people who are up there in the clouds, and you’re sitting there with your 67 followers thinking, “OK, well, this is what an ant feels like walking down the path to the Big Top. I would say this would be an accurate description of how I was when I first started my blogging and Twitter journey. I did not perceive that I had anything to offer a community because certain individuals seemed like they were communities all by themselves. The mountain seemed unclimbable.
Hi, I’m going to argue and be mean to get attention: I have seen a fair number of people who try this approach. It might be through blog comments, through Facebook comments, or through Twitter. Maybe they donate a whole blog post to the cause. One thing Stephen Covey talks about is that synergy revolves around avoiding distractions and not being discouraged by those that disagree. These folks inevitably wind up in that category.
So, what does a community look like if you’re living by Habit 6? What does it look like if you believe that your community, as a combination of people and personas, is more valuable than any one of the individuals?
If you think about it, there aren’t a whole lot of examples where you can see this kind of philosophy borne out, but let me tell you some examples that crossed my mind.
Brass Tack Thinking: It would be easy, I suppose, for Amber Naslund and Tamsen McMahon of Brass Tack Thinking to have ego fights when one or the other blogs. They could easily go down the road of, “Well what I *think* she meant to say was blah blah blah.” But they don’t. Each post builds into the community they are building at Brass Tack Thinking. No one post aims to overshadow another, but if you took out one or the other contributor, the community feel of the blog would suffer.
Chats: Notice I keep coming back to chats? That’s why I have become such a proponent for people to try chats, especially if you’re new. In a chat, if it is done right, nobody is made to feel like the whole chat would collapse without them. Even when folks like Beth Harte, Ann Handley, Chris Brogan, and Brian Clark co-host #Blogchat, there is not the feeling that the chat would just disintegrate if they left (though it’s awesome when they pop by). A chat is a community, and everybody’s contributions matter. There is never going to be a single person who can carry a whole chat by themselves. The sum is more important than all of the parts, and disagreements, if handled with civility, just add to the interest (or that’s what I think anyway).
MENG Blend: Like Brass Tack Thinking, the MENG blog is a community effort. No one blogger is spotlighted as the ultimate member of the community. Everyone is important. Everyone’s post is important. The essence of the blog is that there are multiple, great bloggers involved in the project. No one tries to outdo the others.
Lose your ego
When you first enter into the world of Social Media, it’s easy to think that it’s all about ego. In fact, some of my friends who are anti-Facebook say that folks who post on Social Media sites are just acting out their narcissism in 21st century ways. Some people might fit that description perfectly.
However, if you apply habit 6 to your Social Media world, what you are really talking about is easing your way into a community – into a finely tuned set of gears that works to share, network, teach, and learn all at once. Now remember, this does not mean that you have to flagellate yourself if you do anything that slightly resembles self-promotion. However, you come to realize that your community, while it exists around you, does not exist because of you. That’s a key difference, and it completely altered my perspective. Your community can value you. The individuals that comprise the community can think you’re awesome. But if you have truly found yourself as part of a synergistic community, it can go on without you (are you hearing Celine Dion singing yet?).
Take a look at your Social Media landscape. Have you worked on becoming part of a sum total rather than just being an amputated part?
What are some other ways that one can synergize with others?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
1st Image by Marcus Beltman. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/MBeltman
2nd Image by Robert Aichinger. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/raichinger