Over the weekend, I happened to turn to my blog and found a comment there that perplexed me from a visitor.
The article I had written was a recent one about how people used to job search years ago and how things have changed. Now I’ve had three types of comments in the past; those who responded positively and thanked or added their thoughts, those who intentionally spammed the piece hoping to have me visit their site and get trapped into buying something, and one that had issues with the piece written.
But over the weekend I had a different kind of comment and it was from a young lady who invited me, (and had I favourably accepted it) and others to read her piece all about job searching tips. I was surprised at the complete and total lack of feedback for good or ill on the piece itself I had penned. (well keyboarded actually, but that’s so less sexy!)
And so I imagined this young lady at a gathering of people, walking up to people she didn’t know and after hearing one person talk about whatever was on their mind, start talking herself in an attempt to get the rest of the group to talk about her too. What about the person who had previously been chatting. If you are going to go up to someone who is speaking, shouldn’t you at least say SOMETHING in response to what THEY have said?
On LinkedIn, as well as individual’s blogs, company websites, Facebook and other social media, there is often a space at the end of an article for people to add their comments. The author’s of those pages, and those that design them, put them there and look to them as sources of feedback on what they wrote. Personally, I find the feedback rewarding. Rewarding not so much in a pat-on-the-back, gee you’re terrific kind of way, but in a way that confirms I’ve struck a chord with a reader, got them to pause and think, maybe go so far as to share that thought with me, or lend another opinion, or add something relevant.
And the last thought there; ‘add something relevant’ is what differentiated this young lady’s comment from others I’d previously received. It was relevant. The link I checked out was another website of job tips. Why I wondered however, would I want to visit the site and then leave a positive comment about what I’d read however?
So I wrote an email to her and suggested that when visiting someone’s blog, (and the same applies to when reading someone’s piece on LinkedIn or their Facebook post), it’s only good manners to actually write something about the actual piece you just read. To do otherwise and hurl somebody off to your own site for self-promotion is in bad form.
Imagine you walk into a meeting of the book club at the library, (a public space) where someone is just presenting their thoughts on a book, and as they finish their words, you pipe up and hand out copies of your own book without even acknowledging anything the person just said. Same thing here.
So why am I bothering to write about this today? I’ll tell you this, it is not because I’m hurt or upset. No not really, because I’m not giving her that much influence over me to start my day with annoyance. I’m writing on this piece in with the hope of possibly – just possibly mind – having her or others like her read this and think for a moment. If you take a few seconds to say something – as little as two words such as, “Nice piece”, at least there is an acknowledgement. Then if you reference your own work, it is viewed as collaboration, not self-promotion.
This is quite different from the many readers who read an article and then click away without leaving the slightest hint of their visit. Hard to know really what might trigger someone to start reading something, be interested enough to read the whole thing and then just click to something else. Could be a short attention span, not wanting to disagree and start a lengthy debate, avoid the trap of being on someone’s mailing list – who knows?
So my advice today is that if you are reading something, it’s good form and proper manners to take the briefest of moments to either ‘like’ their piece or write a reply. It’s even acceptable to do neither really because there’s so much on the internet and move on. But what should be a practice to be discontinued is to discount others at the expense of promoting oneself.
If you find yourself wanting to promote yourself at a gathering of people, one of the best things you can do is start by listening to other people, and then ask them questions, reply with positive feedback or even debate assertions they make with courtesy and respect. Taking an interest in others gets people interested in you. The same thing applies on the internet, perhaps more so.