A good friend asked me to write this post. It has been the hardest for me to sit down and write, because I didn’t want to disappoint him. But the truth is, I’m not sure how to explain how to be real and authentic in public or private. All I know is how to be myself: honest, outspoken, and opinionated (three traits that get me in trouble more often than not).
Then, I realized that maybe the reason he asked me to write this is because he had been made uncomfortable by having to figure out whether or not other people were being honest with him. So, in the spirit of friendship, I would like to outline ways in which I can identify if people are being honest with me.
As a Social Media Manager, I have met hundreds of people on-line. Participating in social media almost forces us into developing a characterized version of ourselves. We can’t be expected to open every conversation with the story of our lives. I always tell people: “You don’t have to share all of you, but however much of yourself you post should be real.”
If you want to start a conversation with someone, you may need to be the one to ask the first question. Likewise, be prepared to be funny, and make entertaining remarks, in order to put the other person at ease.
Here’s an example from when I got to chat with my Twitter friend Mike on Blab for the first time. I welcomed him by saying: “You’re not black and white!” (a reference to his Twitter profile picture).
While this wasn’t an in-person meeting, it was still a real-time conversation, and it got a smile out of him.
— Silvia K. Spiva (@silviakspiva) October 14, 2015
Yesterday, I went to a party where I was hoping to meet many of my on-line friends in person. Some of them I had already conversed with over video. Others, I wanted to walk up to and introduce myself to clearly, for the first time. This is especially true of people identified within the Marketing industry as “Influencers”. These are folks who are extremely charismatic, and while they may appreciate the loyalty from each of their followers, it may not be humanly possible for them to remember everyone’s names, much less Twitter handles and ever-changing profile pictures.
The party started with a worst-case scenario. I approached someone I knew from Twitter, but it quickly became clear that he didn’t remember me as well as I remembered him. What to do? Run away and pretend this never happened? No, I kept offering reminders, until something clicked. Again, busy people need reminders. If you care, remember why you care, and make them see you as someone worth caring about.
Keep in Touch
The party doesn’t end when everyone goes home. Especially in the age of digital media, you need to make the time to look through the images that you and the other participants shared with the world. Even if you had a great time, and got to finally meet a lot of people in person, you may discover that someone was there who you didn’t know was there. The first thing I think when that happens is: “Oh, no! I can’t believe I missed them.” But you can still follow-up via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook; etc. Maybe they saw you, but they were too shy to walk up to you and say “Hello!”. Let them know that you want to keep the conversation going online, and quickly find an opportunity to meet them in person. Keep it real.
The best thing to say when you finally meet someone in person may be nothing at all. It is possible that you mean more to them than you realize, in which case all you have to do is listen. Remember to smile, there is nothing more real and authentic than that.