Okay, at least four times in the past week or so someone has actually said to me that they don’t have time for “Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and all that stuff.”

Right. All that stuff.

They don’t have time for it.

I have a few things to say about that.

Huh. I can’t wait to hear what your plan is.

I am convinced that these people who “don’t have time” are mostly the same people who come to me wanting to know how to get people to read their blog.

Well, let’s just say that there’s a pretty large overlap in the Venn diagram.

Here’s what they want me to teach them:

How to get traffic. How to get readers. How to get comments. How to remind people that you exist so that they’ll hire you and buy stuff from you.

Uh ….

I can’t help you.

Because normally a big chunk of my answer to all of those things would be: Twitter*.

*If you haven’t read my post about how Twitter actually works, you might want to do that.

But you don’t have time for that. Let’s talk about what you do have time for.

That’s cool. Let’s talk about time.

So I would normally recommend that you spend 5-10 minutes a day on Twitter, but you don’t want to do that.

Let’s see then. So as far as I can tell your other options are:

  1. Spend half an hour a day leaving smart, insightful comments on other people’s blogs. No, wait. That actually takes longer.
  2. Spend three hours a week crafting careful, deliberate, strategic letters to other bloggers trying to convince them to let you guest post there. And then another few hours writing said guest posts. No, wait. That actually takes longer.
  3. Go to two live networking events each week. Let’s see, each thing is probably at least two hours, plus another hour to get there and find parking.
    Plus another hour to shower and decide what the hell you’re going to wear. Plus another hour to transfer the contact information from people’s business cards into your [whatever you use for that]. Hmmmm. 8-10 hours a week. I’m going to go out on a limb and say: that actually takes longer.

And there’s no guarantee that any of those people you meet will end up reading your blog or leaving comments or buying stuff from you, so it’s not only a large investment of your time and energy, it’s also a huge risk.

But I get it. Not everyone has five minutes to hang out and goof off online.

Alright. You don’t have to do any of this social networking stuff.

But there’s a catch.

There’s a story my parents delight in telling — despite their complete inability to apply the point of it to their own lives — about me going to the doctor.

I was little. Little enough that my memories of this exist, but only somewhat vaguely. But here’s the story.

I was a strong-willed kid who didn’t like being sick. And refused — vehemently — to take medication. My parents tried every trick in the book and I fought back with new ones.

Eventually, after all of their cajoling and threatening and bargaining didn’t pay off, they took me to the doctor in the hopes that this figure of authority would tell me I had to.

It didn’t quite work the way they wanted it to — I was both vindicated and thwarted.

But it did get the desired effect.

Here’s what the doctor said:

You don’t have to take the medicine. But then you don’t get to complain.

I took the medicine. It was worth it not to have to stop complaining.

You can decide that you’re not interested in being on Twitter. That “all this” social networking stuff is not for you. But you don’t get to complain that nobody reads your blog. You don’t get to complain that people don’t come to your website. And you don’t get to complain that you don’t have any clients or customers.

This metaphor starts to get weird, though, because Twitter is actually not like medicine at all — it’s crazy fun and I would do it if it had no impact on my business at all.

Why it’s important.

I heard Seth Godin say once that you need to have your presence reflected equally in different spaces. Well, he said it in a much more articulate way than that.

The point, though, was that you want to be giving people the same message across the board. Being on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is a way that you tell people 1. yes, I exist and this is a real thing, and 2. this is who I am and what I do.

It’s about being present and consistent. Which are two of the most important qualities you need (or at least be working on) if you want to get results in pretty much anything.

It’s as true in business as it is in a meditation practice.

How much time it actually takes.

Not. Very. Much.

Obviously, your mileage may vary. But there’s no reason to spend an insane amount of time on “all that stuff”.

And you know what? It’s not even “all that stuff”. These social networking tools or whatever you want to call them are drastically different animals. You don’t have to use all of them. And different people use each one differently.

Let’s talk about how much time it actually takes. Or at least, how much time my duck and I spend on each one.

LinkedIn:

Maybe five minutes a month. I don’t really use it. Some people like it. I’m not one of them. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s about owning your name and owning your brand and showing people that what you do is a real thing.

It is absolutely worth investing at least half an hour or so in writing a good profile. Kelly Parkinson from Copylicious has a terrific post about how not to screw that up.

(You’ll also want to read her post about how she used LinkedIn to get a 41% response rate and six new clients. Uh huh.)

So I’m probably a complete idiot for not using LinkedIn more, but that’s where I am with it.

I only connect with people on LinkedIn when I actually know them well enough that I would recommend them to people in my network. If you’re a blog reader and want to hang out with me, don’t approach me on LinkedIn. Twitter. We can hang out on Twitter. I’d like that.

Facebook:

Between two and five minutes a day, at most. I don’t use Facebook for business, though it does sometimes (accidentally) have that result.

On the other hand, I know lots of people (thinking of Dana the Spicy Princess right now) who use it successfully as a way to stay in touch with clients and customers. Which is great.

Personally, I’m only interested right now in using it to stay in touch with old friends. I connect with people on Facebook when I know them well enough that I don’t mind them seeing pictures of me from fourth grade. For me, it’s more of an intimate space to keep in touch with people I already know really really well.

Again, if you’re a blog reader who wants to hang out with me, not Facebook. Twitter. Let’s get to know each other there for a while.

Twitter.

I love Twitter. I’m only on about 10 minutes a day because I can’t use my arms and I need people to help me do it.

I would pay for Twitter. It is where I goof off. It’s where I complain. It’s where I have fun. It’s where I remember why I do what I do.

Oh, and it’s also where I make about a third of my income.

Don’t get me wrong here. I would still hang out on Twitter if it had zero impact on my business. In fact, I would still be there if it had a negative impact on my business.

Because it’s just that great. It would be totally worth it to me to lose clients and customers by being obnoxious on Twitter.

But here’s what actually happens, I get clients from Twitter. I fill classes on Twitter. The “where did you hear about us?” box in my online shopping cart more often than not says Twitter.

Most of the people who comment here …. friends from Twitter.

But I get it. Who has time for stuff like that?

Oh, time. I have issues with it too. And yet …

You have time to write a noozletter. You have time to deliberate over what typeface you’re going to use on your business cards. You have time to have coffee with that guy you met who maybe knows someone at that one place.

But you don’t have ten minutes for this.

Here’s what I think. It’s pretty hard to be successful online without hanging out there.

It doesn’t have to be a lot — a few minutes a day will do it. Of course you can choose not to. You can decide you don’t have time. You can decide that it’s not your thing. You just can’t hire me. Because the first thing I will do is make you get on Twitter.