The Agile Coach on Being Social
“Too many opinions I don’t care about”
I was surprised recently to hear from a few of the ‘younger’ students in an Agile class I teach tell me they don’t use Twitter. Surely most (if not all) young, tech-savvy folks that work in IT would use this popular social media app, I thought to myself. However, a non-scientific, informal survey I conducted (show of hands) held over the past few months in these Agile classes has shown this not to be the case. Believe it or not, there are many middle aged and older folks who are savvy in the ways of social media as well (see Frank the Tank).
I then asked how many folks used Facebook. Nearly everyone raised their hand to this question. Interesting. So what’s the difference? Why would they use Facebook and not use Twitter? Several of the more outspoken ones told me it was because Twitter was filled with ‘too many opinions I don’t care about’. And both old and young alike said it’s ‘information overload’. They simply don’t have the time to keep up with all the social media stuff.
I have to admit that I got burned out in the past on social media too. Facebook had lost its luster for me. And I didn’t see a ton of difference (at least in the way I used it) between Facebook and Twitter, so I didn’t even bother with the little blue bird. I used LinkedIn, more or less, as an online resume’. Other community sites I had been active on started to become bitch sessions and seemed to be filled with folks who either didn’t know what they were talking about, or were just downright irritating or rude. I couldn’t take much more. So I deleted my Facebook account, stopped posting to the community sites I had set as favorites, and immersed myself in work and family. And I must admit, it was good for the soul.
But I soon began feeling ‘out of touch’. I started hearing about new developments in my industry later than I would like. Reading news on the web just wasn’t cutting it. So I came back; this time in a more ‘manageable’ way for me. I started with utilizing most of the features on LinkedIn (the Facebook for professionals). Things like reading what other thought leaders were saying, connecting with and following people, companies, and influencers. It’s now one of my favorite social media sites out there because it serves so many purposes. I found it useful to set aside some time each day for this. In my case, it was before I logged off for the day.
I also started blogging more. Originally, I had a pretty basic WordPress blog and posted to it intermittently. Only a couple of my friends ever looked at it. I did a poor job of promoting it, and an even poorer job keeping the content fresh.
I decided to set up my own website (www.agilecaffeine.com), with an initial goal of one blog post per week, which I’ve done pretty well sticking to. There’s just something cool about having your own unique URL. Pride of ownership thing, I guess. For me, blogging is a great way of bringing out my introspective side. And it’s fun too. I try not to get too ‘white paper’ish’ about it; just write like I think and talk.
Twitter seemed to be a good avenue to share my ramblings and interact with folks who were interested in the same stuff I was. So I started following people whose opinions I respected and wanted to read about (sorry Ashton Kutcher). The key here is to be selective in who you follow. Believe it or not, recently, a number of people have even begun following me.
At the end of the day, I’ve learned that besides being passionate about my craft, I also need to make the commitment to be more socially engaged. And this isn’t just online.
A few concrete examples…
- I utilized ‘Meetup’ to join with the ‘Limited WIP Society’. We meet once a month to talk, play games, eat pizza, and learn new stuff together.
- I created, led and promoted Agile Communities of Practice and Communities of Interest at client sites. These are great because they provide a forum for folks to engage with one another, hash out problems, share, help and learn.
- I’m making a point to be more active in my local chapter of PMI (Project Management Institute). But I must admit, the last time I attended one of these sessions was about 6 months ago. At that time, I presented to an audience of about 150 people on the topic of ‘Writing Effective User Stories’, and had no idea of the keen interest until about 15 minutes before I walked in. Downing a couple of Stella’s at the hotel bar helped to erase my anxieties.
Are you being social? What are some of your frustrations? How have you adjusted?