In speaking today with my fabulous digital strategy mentor Nettie Hartsock, we stumbled on an interesting concept, which is this…in the digital world, it’s all about open contributing and sharing generously, giving of yourself freely. It’s also about shining a light on others — pointing to the special brilliance and contribution of other colleagues and leading edge thinkers in a way that sustains and nurtures community, connection, learning and the global growth.
The underlying problem with this whole approach for so many small business owners, creatives, authors, consultants and entrepreneurs, is that this idea – this “movement,” shall we say — can feel in total opposition to how we’ve operated for years. Giving of ourselves freely (without asking for or commanding money for own gifts, talents, and services), and pointing to the distinguished talents of others, can feel in sharp contrast to the ways we’ve achieved success (financial, emotional, and otherwise) in the past. After all, our cultural worldview has, up until now, been about the individual hacking it out in the wilderness, and coming up with the bounty all by him/herself.
Thousands of individuals today have achieved fantastic results and accomplishments because of their intense and relentless focus on self – what they offer the world individually and uniquely that no one else can. So the idea of a shift from a self-orientation to a community-orientation can be daunting, scary and confusing. Giving away for free what folks have spent years honing and developing – the very thing that makes them different and sets them apart — seems counterintuitive, or bad business, to many.
Further, the ego – the part of the personality equation that is so often helpful in launching yourself powerfully in the world – can feel very threatened when we’re being asked to shift away from self-centric endeavors to community-building endeavors.
As a business owner who helps other business owners, practitioners, authors, professionals, etc. make money doing what they love, I know that balance is essential to a passionate, powerful, and purposeful life and career. Balance in all areas is vitally important – balance between work and family, between making great money and doing good in the world, AND balance between gratifying and sustaining your ego/individuality/self and supporting the growth of the world outside yourself.
These are not mutually exclusive endeavors, of course, though they can feel like they are. People say to me, “I don’t have one second to waste in my business. Times are so hard. I don’t have time to blog and tweet and follow others. I need to go out and make some money here!”
But finding a way to contribute openheartedly to the world WHILE sustaining and nurturing the self in a bountiful way is the key to a well-lived life and a successful business/career.
So to those who ask themselves, “Do I really have to participate in this online movement to grow my business?” I say this – giving and sharing of yourself – of your special knowledge, perspective, and wisdom — gratifies your soul and also directly benefits your business and your career. The return on investment (yes, that dreaded measure!) is clear. Give of yourself generously to the world, and you will earn financial and emotional success in return.
As you develop your community through generous giving of yourself and to others, you build a tremendously powerful network of like-minded partners and supporters in this world – people who find what you have to offer extremely valuable and will share that knowledge with others. These supporters will help you grow your business endeavors by connecting you with new and wonderful folks who will gladly utilize (and pay for) your products, services and special talents, for the greater good of all involved.
Don’t trust me? Here’s my challenge:
Kathy’s challenge: For three months, participate more fully (in specific, concrete ways) in the social media movement. Create a blog, share a newsletter, complete your LinkedIn profile, ask for recommendations on LinkedIn and give others a great recommendation, tweet about others’ fantastically interesting viewpoints – share freely and openly your wisdom and perspective. (Here are mine, for some samples: blog, newsletter, LinkedIn profile, Twitter).
Then measure what you get in return. If you don’t see a return that blows your mind, let me know. I’ll send you a free copy of my book Breakdown Breakthrough if you take my challenge. Write to Kathy@elliacommunications.com to participate and for details.
“See” you online soon!