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Finding Your Voice

Nearly every businessperson I speak to, whether client or colleague—hates to blog. Just about everybody thinks social networking is a pain. I concur.  I’d sailed along as Rose Public Relations for 8 years, doing quite well, thank you, without activating my social media skills.

Then came the memorable economic slump of September 2008 and I lost 85% of my income in a matter of two weeks. Because my client portfolio had consisted of construction, manufacturing and greentech firms, I had positioned my business perfectly for a very hard bump.

In the midst of my anguish and frenzy to rebuild my client base, a friend of mine, who specializes in corporate headhunting, gave me some unwelcome news. “You won’t survive in your business unless you dive in and become social media savvy.” Ha. Well, I didn’t have much to lose by trying—except a good amount of hair.

It’s five years later. I’ve upped my game considerably. I switched from a PC to the latest Mac and have actively participated in countless hours of personal trainings at my local Apple store. I bought a Droid and became proficient. Following the thought leaders in content marketing like Lee Odden at Top Rank Marketing and tech experts on Mashable has helped me learn on a fast track. Paying personal friends— even clients— for one-on-one training has allowed me to set my bar high: I am becoming a social media expert! I even took a free online course from Stanford that was way over my head but allowed me to free myself of the cobwebs of time and develop a new vocabulary.

Recently I read in a tweet about the value of commenting. Have you had the impulse to comment on someone else’s post but then backed out? “Not enough time to plan! Nothing valuable to contribute! What if I made a mistake and said something I would later regret?”

BOTTOM LINE: It’s useless to resist–this social media game is one you have to dip your toe into, no matter what. You can dive right in if you have the stomach for it—but for my friends who have yet to retrieve their voices, I suggest a slow and easy approach.

I lamented to Mary Burk, my long-time client at ACH Foam Technologies, that I was late getting into the social media game. Young, with a mind like a steel trap, Mary admonished me: “Sue, it’s still early! There are tons of people—even in marketing positions—who feel dumbfounded by SEO and social media. It’s not too late to start, but it is too late not to.”

Getting started can make anyone feel a bit vulnerable. After all, whatever it is you say will be visible to a huge audience. It seems to me the beauty of social media is just that: vulnerability. Doesn’t vulnerability allow us to connect with other people? A friend talks about acting school and how his mentor required all the acting students to shave off their beards and remove their makeup. No hiding behind façades in L.A!

Our old business model of positioning ourselves above our peers may still be in operation inside corporate brick-and-mortar—but when we step into social, we’re gonna have to leave our facial hair and Gucci bag at the dashboard.

About Sue Rose

Sue Rose has run Rose Public Relations for over 16 years. Her work in the communications field spans over 25 years, including early days running an award-winning advertising agency. She has served in the promotion, marketing, and public relations fields in corporate, nonprofit and agency settings.

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