Virtual Communications: I’m Sorry, Who Are You?

I am sure that you have heard this one: “If a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it make any noise?”

No matter how impressive your ideas, or how creative your message, if you are not reaching other people through the internet, you have no digital reputation. If no one reads your blog, or your website, or sees your comments, then in the digital world, you basically don’t exist. You might as well be talking to the wall. This will not help you in business.

Building your reputation in cyberspace is not much different than the tried and true “old neighborhood” way of getting things done. When people lived in small towns, everybody knew everyone, and everyone knew everyone’s personal and professional business (think Andy Griffith’s Mayberry ). Towns and villages were self-monitoring. Children all went to the same school, most people went to the same church/temple, and the businesses serviced the local population. (And as Garrison Keiller believed, “All the children were above average.”) If the butcher was skimping on your cut of meat, everyone knew. If a child, or adult, was misbehaving, the community would ultimately bring them in line (think Harper Valley PTA). Everyone had a stake in the outcome of their actions because they knew they would be held accountable to their family and neighbors. In many ways, social media has brought us back to those days – the days of being part of a community.

Facebook has become the town square, or maybe even as intimate as your living room. When you have something to share about your life, you ‘STATUS’ it.  LinkedIn has become your office. When a business is doing something right, you ‘LIKE’ it and you ‘SHARE’ it. Ideas are ‘Tweeted’ across the globe like they used to be discussed at the local diner. In business, your expertise is ‘Googled’ and your community is built through ‘LinkedIn’ connections.  The pace is different, but the concept is the same: it is your community that stands behind you and supports you and helps you succeed, and your community is now online and talking.

Here are 4 reasons why you need to start using social media (immediately if not sooner):

1.  Everyone is using it.

That’s right. Your kids have been using it for as long as they can remember, but more importantly, companies, your company, my company, and the next company you want to work for, is using it. (Check out “Ranking the Top 100 Global Brands” and see how Dell, Toyota, Starbucks, and others are using social media)

Social media is part of our lives and it is not going away. Basically, adapt or die! (I know that is harsh but I think it is true.  “Adapt or Die” is the title of Chapter 1, of Socialized!: How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social, by Mark Fidelman.)

2.  People are talking and they may be talking about you.

If you do not use social media, you are abdicating control of your personal message. Whether personal or business, people are talking, so why not make sure that you are in the conversation. Jeff Bullus, the author of “Blogging The Smart Way,” says that “The thing to keep in mind about brands that don’t want to engage in Social Media is that these conversations are going on about you whether you are there or not, and whether you want to hear it.”

I am sorry to break it to you but… your High School friends are talking about you on Facebook and pictures of your dog are on Instagram. But more importantly, your boss’s boss just ‘Tweeted’ about a new product that she thinks may be the next big thing and you missed it. I really think you want to be in the conversation.

3.   You have a passion, communicate it.

ringleader_yelling_thru_megaphone_sm_wht_23454Everyone has at least one story that they love to tell others. When you recite it, the whole room gets quiet and everyone listens. That, my blog friends, is the ‘it’ factor, your passion – the topic that makes your eyes sparkle. Maybe it is your recent trip to Paris or pictures of the baby, for many, it is their profession (I can wax for hours on project management), or something political like Global Warming. Do you love to tell people your ideas on building a better mousetrap, or a unique way to solve a tricky business problem? There is a passion in you and a story to tell.

Once you narrow in on your personal brand, social media gives you the ability to communicate to a wide audience. Sharing your thoughts, your views, your passions, helps to build an authentic picture of your expertise and let’s people know what value you bring to the global conversation.

Allison Graham, in her book “From Business Cards to Business Relationships: Personal Branding and Profitable Networking Made Easy,” says that “The two most predictable questions that will be asked when you meet someone are, “Do you have a business card?” and “What do you do?”  Your digital business card should communicate what you are passionate about. This is your chance to show your stuff.

4.   Patience. Your audience will grow and so will you.

Remember the ‘old neighborhood’ that I was talking about, well it now has gone digital. Whether it is your local church group or what Etienne Wenger calls a “community of practice” (a group primarily made of practitioners in a field or profession who are passionate about the work that they do), they are all connecting through social media. People want to be connected and they are connecting through online communities in the millions.   In the end, it is your communities that will be your biggest supporters and where you will grow your online reputation. (Check out Design to Thrive: Creating Social Networks and Online Communities that Last, by Tharon Howard)

Do you really need more reasons to start using social media? Here’s an easy way to add to your online reputation immediately: leave a comment below and connect with me now on LinkedIn. Welcome to my digital family.

Grow Your Digital Reputation – 5 Ways

community sketchI’m a social butterfly and like most people, I prefer to participate in groups with other people who hold similar interests to me.  It gives me a sense of trust when I interact with people and groups with common values and beliefs to my own (Meyers, 2011). I find comfort with ‘like minded’ individuals, and obviously, I am not alone in this feeling since, one of the main motivators for people to use social media in the first place, is their desire for community.  Social Media allows us to be a part of community, not dictated by space or location, and it also comes with a sense of family and unity  (Mueller, 2010).

This social connectivity, this common ground, can help you build a strong digital reputation. Just as you are attracted to people and communities that you have something in common with, people will be attracted to what you have to say in return.  You just need to be genuine and authentic in your digital communications.

According to Dorie Clark, one of my favorite Branding gurus, there are 3 main ways to get noticed by other people when building your reputation online:

  1. through the content you create,
  2. by social proof provided by others, and
  3. by having someone recommend you directly.

Based on the first 2 ways above to get noticed, I have put together 5 suggestions on how you can grow your digital reputation.  The third way, having someone recommend you directly, speaks more to your physical network than you virtual one, but if you are getting them to recommend your social presence loudly, at let’s say a cocktail party or business conference, by all means, you should be using that tactic as well.

1. Promote Yourself and Your Ideas on Facebook

Facebook is, hands down, the largest social network being used today.  It is not just for your kids and connecting with your high school buddies anymore.  Many people have set up professional profiles that highlight their knowledge and expertise.  For example, check out Chocolate for Breakfast. This is the business page for Sue Ann Gleason, a culinary nutritionist and marketing strategist.  This page has over 19,845 Likes, which translates into fans following it, with outstanding engagement in the Facebook world (over 60% of the fans are talking about the page according to the Social Media Examiner).  It uses photos really well, has inspiring posts (particularly the recipes),and is entertaining and educational.


Personally, I have a page on Facebook ( DogDaz ) that I use to connect with my followers that prefer that social network and to promote my PetBlog,   The goal is to connect with other animal lovers, promote animal rescue and remind my Facebook followers to read today’s blog posts.  This has worked great in the last year and I have over 40,000 hits on the blog (which is huge for me).

dogdaz fbWhat you will find is that people will start recommending your content to other people, who will recommend it to other people, and building your reputation.  In the Facebook world, the number of people (FANS) that LIKE your page, the higher the rating and stronger your reputation.  These ratings act as SOCIAL PROOF that your page (you) has value.  If someone agrees (thumbs up) that what you are saying, or selling, or doing, has value, that social proof leads others to see greater value in your stuff.  Dorie Clark says that “basically, [social proof] means that people look to others around them to judge the value of something. (If a book has 1,000 five-star Amazon reviews, it must be good.)”  Can you see how you might leverage this to help build your reputation?

2. Connect to Other Professionals with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is definitely ‘the place’ to connect to people professionally.  Just like with Facebook you set up a profile, but the power of LinkedIn comes through your participation in groups that interest you.  This is where you show your smarts.  You build a following on LinkedIn by following other people and groups, and commenting on their ideas, or in forums, with your ideas.  This gets your name out there.  As you comment, you build your credibility as an expert in a particular area, and your reputation increase.

3. Write a Blog

Though blogging is not for everyone, blogs are a great way to let the world know what you are thinking on a particular subject and why you are an expert. It takes time to build an audience, but if your posts are on interesting topics and you take the time to research and write clearly, the benefits to your digital presence is worth it.  I use this blog ( as a way to pull all my thoughts together about digital eminence, personal branding, and social project management, and then I link my posts to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and IBM Connections, to make sure that those people who are following me on different platforms, know what I am thinking today.  (Don’t be overwhelmed by the media connections, you can manage the feeds with tools like HootSuite or feedly – but that is for another blog post.)

4. Comment on Other People’s Posts and in Relevant Communities

Being helpful and answering questions in forums and communities is a great way to get known.  This may sound like a tease, but you can give just enough information in your answer and then encourage people to contact you through your email, blog, website or other links, so that you start to build a direct relationship.  The more you put yourself out in front, the more digitally social you are, the more will come back to you.  Trust me – it works (your reading my blog, aren’t you?).

5.  Be a Regular On Your Social Media Sites

If you are going to use any of these suggestions to build your digital reputation, do them consistently.  I hate when I come upon communities, groups, forums, and blog sites that are woefully outdated.  If you are going to have a presence in social media, you need to post regularly or it does you little good.  People will lose interest in your posts if your site, or blog, or Twitter feed is outdated.  You don’t need to post everyday, 2 or 3 times a week is fine, but you should be doing it regularly.


The internet provides the ability to grow your reputation exponentially,  And, based on the concept of Six Degrees of Separation (or the Small World theory) “millions of people are connected by just a few short steps.” (Lovgren, 2010)  So what are you waiting for? How are you leveraging your connections?

Tell me what you are doing to grow your reputation?


Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)