I know it's been awhile since I last posted. Maybe you thought I had given up marveling and savouring life.
I haven't. Actually quite the opposite.
I decided in July to go forward with a thought I had had to start a blog celebrating Canadian children's books and authors/illustrators by reviewing a book a day. I also had hoped that this new and exciting venture would keep my mind occupied during the time I was away from my precious Miss Mouse.
It's working. My blog Word of Mouse Books has been a saving grace. I am not required to use all my extra moments, whether commuting by train or downtime at work to plan and execute what I will do for each nightly post and that leaves little time for wallowing in the separation time. Plus, I am "forcing" myself to write each day and to find my own voice as I muddle through.
The added boon, besides all the great books I get to read and my small but loyal readership, is the amazing on-line community I have met and become part of.
I'll be honest; while I love many of the social media tools (obviously blogging but also Facebook) I have been resistant to Twitter. I had this notion (probably from media portrayals and thanks to Ashton Kutcher) that it was a cyberspace wasteland of narcissistic individuals tweeting about their bowel movements, what they were eating, and what sort of underwear their wife had on today.
Boy, was I surprised.
Not only is Twitter a valuable tool for getting the word out about your product, service or brand (in my case my blog is my brand) it has become a valuable source of information and connections to various authors, illustrators, book enthusiast and bloggers. For me, Twitter has also been a way to engage in a meaningful dialogue about children's literature, local events and parenting styles. It's a limitless forum to build awareness and start a conversation.
So I just wanted to share some of the life lessons I've learned from Twitter:
Finding success at life or through Twitter is more than coming up with witty repartee and zany one-liners. You have to have substance:
Sure everyone loves the guy/gal with the sarcastic quip or the ability to make us laugh but people on-line and off only want that for so long. If you have nothing valuable to say after awhile, people will tune you out.
Vapid people get very tiresome really quickly just like tweets about nothing and the disingenuous get sniffed out fairly quickly too. For some reason the same tool that allows millions of people of any socio-economic, cultural, racial, religious, national group or affiliation allows those same folks to weed out those with self-serving gains or ill-will faster than you can say "tweeps"! I think there are some universalities when it comes to human behavior which is paradoxically evidenced in cyberspace. I also think the world is hungry for more (but that's a whole other post!)
If you aren't here to participate you might as well stay home:
Like life there are always those more engaged than others. Some of this is personality or upbringing while some of it is just laziness or as Seth Godin's coined our Lizard Brain. We are afraid of failure, fearful of taking a stand, cautious of being taken seriously. Why? Because it means we up to this point, we haven't been living up to our potential and that's tough for some people to take in.
This fear is not only reserved to the individual but to companies and organizations everywhere. They are afraid to get on-line and build a presence. They hire expensive consultants and assemble teams and meet ad nausea to plan and plan and plan. These aren't bad things but the worldwide web doesn't wait. Why, you ask, because it doesn't have to! If you are not there to add to its need for frequent, relevant and generating conversation don't bother even coming out.
It's like the guy who attends every single meeting, keeps his head down, takes only notes and never says a word. It's almost better that he didn't come because all he'll be remembered for is as the guy who never adds anything of value.
So if you plan to go do more than show up, contribute! And if you plan to go on-line to contribute, be prepared to contribute something of value often.
You don't always have to be right you just have to be willing to talk about it:
Here is another thing that happens to people when the fear takes over they ascribe to perfectionism especially those who look at life as a dog-eat-dog world. If I'm not cool/hip/au courant/chic/ insightful/innovative/creative all the time I will be laughed off of Twitter (or the boardroom, or the classroom, or out of this group). I've found that on Twitter most people just want to talk about things-whether it is parenting, breastfeeding, kids' lit, writing novels, learning how to be more environmentally responsible and even how to be more successful at Tweeting!
If you are not ready to put your opinions out there then you're missing an important part of the tool, it's to facilitate conversation. Sure you only have 140 characters in which to do it which makes it harder but also forces you to really look at what's the important crux of what you want to say. What are the bare bones of your argument and how to get it across to others in a meaningful way? It's brilliant really, technology forcing us to be more mindful!
I often wonder how much better international relations would go if world leaders were only allowed to Tweet to each other!
And lastly, good manners go a long way:
Never was I more acutely aware of the power of good etiquette than when I joined Twitter. While I can't honestly say that bad manners will do you in (I'm sure there is someone out there who has some insightful musings on this) all I can tell you is that paying attention to how you treat people makes a HUGE difference in your ability to generate goodwill on line which means more Re-Tweets (RTs)of your tweets (which is how this whole thing works) more followers and thus more recognition and how much more I want to help others who engage in a friendly, polite manner with me.
This type of relationship currency is invaluable for the success of anything you want to do in life or on Twitter.
Speaking of which, I have some RTs to do and thank you DMs to respond to!
Hopefully I will meet you there!