One of the first things I learned about social media I got from my friend Chris. He’s a smarty pants, as you know. He said it time and again in the early days, and still does.
If you want to succeed online, be helpful.
The words resonated with me in 2007, and they resonate today. It’s great and practical advice. But what does it really mean, to be genuinely helpful? Let’s break it down.
Actions speak louder than words. Time and time again I see people online who don’t do what they say they’ll do. Sure, they’re good for a retweet here and there, but what about when you genuinely need something? Crickets. Being helpful is about taking action. It’s not the easy thing to do sometimes. It takes energy and time to be truly helpful. It could be responding to a question on Facebook or Twitter or Quora. It could be replying to an email in a timely fashion. Whatever it is, make sure that if you say you’re going to do something, you do it. That means more to people than just about anything and goes a long, long way to build trust.
Helpful is as helpful does. My other friend Chris (I have a lot of friends named Chris) needs some advice. He was asking for it online the other day. I happen to have experience in the area he’s wondering about, so I offered to help. Why? Because Chris is always going out of his way to help others (and he’s a heck of a nice guy, and we used to live in the same town). We’re going for a coffee today, to talk about what he needs help with. It’s a half an hour of my day, to help a great guy who is always helping others. See how that works? Yeah.
Expect nothing in return (and I mean nothing). You can’t be helpful with an agenda. People see right through that. You have to be helpful because you want to be helpful. I have a genuine desire to be as helpful as I can. It’s why I write this blog. It’s why I go for coffee with guys named Chris. And it’s why I’m working at providing even more helpful things to you.
Starting this Sunday, I’ll be publishing a weekly newsletter. It’s a little something extra just for subscribers to Suzemuse.com, dropped into your inbox each week. We’re going to talk about storytelling, and content creation, and maybe some other cool stuff too. It’s a chance for us to have even deeper conversations (because you can just hit reply whenever you like and talk to me) and it’s an opportunity for me to be even more helpful to you.
I look forward to helping you soon!