Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The social-media mirror says I'm funny. What does it tell you?

Some time ago, I was cleaning up my LinkedIn profile and noticed a particular keyword that kept popping up in my recommendations. Clients and colleagues have called me things like "dynamic," "well-prepared," and a "professional's professional." My results are tallied in some detail.

But there was this other thing: I'm funny. I have a great sense of humor. They said so, again and again:
  • "As an added bonus, she's really fun to work with."
  • "Denise's wise counsel and calming presence (not to mention her delightfully sly sense of humor) were invaluable assets..."
  • "...mixed in with all the expertise is a great sense of humor."
  • "To top it off, Denise has a great sense of humor, and is an absolute delight to work with."
Guilty as charged. After all, I am the person who says "I'm fine, she lied," with a big smile on my face when you ask how I am during a crisis or on a major deadline. (Only about half of the people who hear that get the joke, and those are usually the people I like to get to know better.) "You're really funny," people tell me, as if there were a way to fake that.

That little thread represents something precious in social media. It's a mirror, one held up in such a way that the image my clients see is shared with others. I don't think I've ever discussed my humor with these fine folks, and I certainly didn't call and say, "While you're at it, could you mention how funny I am?" I didn't have to: Their comments reflect the fact that I use humor in a variety of ways.

I can hear someone thinking "What the heck does a recommendation that says you're funny help you achieve, business-wise?" Oh, plenty. I coach nervous public speakers and presenters, a transaction that relies heavily on trust and friendliness and approachability, and humor helps with that. It makes me memorable. It tells people "She doesn't take her self too seriously," and "she's not a killjoy" and "this is what I like about her and maybe you will , too." Those are all reasons why psychologists tell us that the likable person is the one who can control the room, something essential when I'm training or consulting for others. If the reader decides to check me out further, she'll go to my blogs and find that, yes indeed, I commit humor on a regular basis--so it's backed up by my own materials.

Have you thought about what the social media mirror says about you--not you the brand, but you the person we might hire, collaborate with, buy products from, vote for, give a donation to or otherwise have truck with? Your social media mirror might be in thoughtful Follow Friday recommendations on Twitter that share why people follow you or what they are looking to you to provide, or live-tweets while you're speaking at a professional event or fan comments on Facebook.

You may not like what's in that social media mirror, but you can learn from it. It just so happens that I like that they have figured out the funny in me, but even if I didn't, it's useful feedback. It gets beyond likes and thumbs-up and shares and endorsements that only require you to click on something. Think about it: I could hardly write my LinkedIn profile and talk about how funny I am, now, could I?

Do yourself a favor. Log out of your social accounts and go back and read them as others see them. Pay attention to the comments and recommendations you get. What's that social-media mirror showing you--and us?

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