Defining your role and your mission
What is your place in society? At one time, and still in many countries, this was a not a question which you were permitted to answer or control. Rather, it was a matter of birth, circumstance, good or bad fortune, and your place in society was largely determined by people and circumstances beyond your control.
Throughout history in various times and places, individuals and groups of people have raised this question, and asserted their right of self-determination, the right to determine their own role and mission in society.
Now due to the momentum of such movements in the past, and the amazing impact of technology to connect people and facilitate communication, these questions are being raised widely around the world, not just in the traditional style of political movements, but in a brand new style of personal movements.
“No man is an island.” So said English poet John Donne in 1624, and the connectivity of life today is increasingly obvious, in the environment, on social networks through the Internet, and in the mood of the times. We are all connected, for better and for worse, and one of the fabrics of our connection is Society, the fifth of the eight frames of life on the Mandala Chart.
A new kind of nation
While nations continue of course, with governments and economies performing a mix of useful and some useless functions, there has emerged in the last decade a new kind of nation, formed of social networks residing virtually on the Internet, but with feet firmly on the ground in the real world.
The movie Social Network, featuring the meteoric rise of the world’s largest and fastest growing social network Facebook, in which one in 12 people on the planet is now a member, is a story of how one such nation was formed in just a few short years.
The beauty of Facebook, and of Social Media in general, is that it is a classless and virtually free territory. Virtual real estate is much easier to come by, more accessible to visit, and easier to connect and cultivate than its counterpart in the real world. On my Creative Career Path Column I wrote about the Facebook phenomenon in an article called What’s in a Facebook Fan Page?
But how do you communicate your role and your mission, or even make your voice heard at all, in a online nation that if it were a country, would be the third largest population in the world, behind only China and India?
The territory in Social Media is dominated not by force or even by size, but by establishing a presence, having a clear message, and delivering value. It is an ongoing process of continual improvement in your ability to create content, and make it accessible to a widening circle of people who like what you offer, and are happy to tell their friends about it.
How do you engage people on Social Media?
It is now possible, and much easier than ever before to establish a presence and a personal identity using Social Media. There is plenty of good and generous advice searchable on the Internet about personal branding through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, and many other popular social networks. Much of this advice centers on joining the conversation. An important, but often overlooked ingredient is having something worth saying.
The challenge is not so much how to get online but rather why, knowing your role, mission, and purpose in engaging in Social Media. Above all, you need a platform, a website or blog on which you can take a stand and express your ideas. As shown in the figure, the platform is the hub for engagement with both social and traditional media, and can give you great leverage in your engagement with society.
Many people struggle with creating a short self-introduction, a 30-second message that engages people’s interest, and makes them want to hear more about you. With a little help from a good designer who understands social media, you can make this much easier with a high-quality graphic in the form of a logo, or online business card which introduces you in just 3 seconds!
This is more than a conversation starter, because it leaves a lasting impression, and it stays online, delivering your message to an ever widening circle of people who get and are interested in your message. Unless you are a brilliant graphic designer with social media savvy right out of the box, you are better off getting help from someone who already is. My website and Facebook Fan Page were both created by the Bigfish Webchicks in New Zealand. They can get you there further and faster. The before/after picture speaks volumes.
Social Media Mandala
The key ingredients in social media are content, communication, and creating a channel. People like having a range of options for content delivery, depending on their communication style and lifestyle preferences. Social Media is set up to accommodate as many types of styles and delivery options as possible.
Even with the best media platform available, ultimately it is up to you to create the content and continually refine and engage people with your message. Using Facebook as an example, by creating a Fan Page you can easily deliver your content in the form of a blog, photos, videos, lists, discussion forum, event pages, a bio, and links to anything or anyone you like. Download a Social Media Mandala to help you think about what you might want to include or improve.
Of course there are many ways to engage in society without ever going online, an option which has only become available in recent years. However, increasingly it is an option that you cannot afford to ignore. You can engage well in both worlds on and offline, and skillfully integrate the two. You may choose what you want to filter for privacy or for focus, but in the interests of integrity, be yourself in both worlds.
specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus
column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path
and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life
. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation
, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.