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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

 

The “I don’t have time for social networking” thing.

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.

68 Responses to The “I don’t have time for social networking” thing.

  1. Tammy says:

    @Havi and @CrazyOnYou, thank you for your response. Because of this post, I reinstalled twhirl, and am reconsidering twitter (without demanding anything more from myself right now). I’ve been following Havi for a while, and have recently followed CrazyOnYou. That only matters if I actually log on, though. :)

    As for the issue of following back: if you have, for example, 2000 followers and you follow every single one of them back, would it even be possible to give it the attention you want to give it? To do so seems disingenuous. I would rather have someone read my words because they’re interested in them, not because they feel obligated.

  2. Gilbert (@CrazyOnYou)
    Twitter: CrazyOnYou
    says:

    @Tammy, I keep coming back to the metaphor of a big party. You can’t possibly listen to everyone in the party. You just listen out for the people you’re familiar and comfortable with and anything interesting anybody else might say.

    It’s a little like swimming upstream in a waterfall if you try to pay attention to everything everybody is saying. You just get used to catching bits and pieces of conversations and the disconnected nature of it all.

    The payoff is that you meet incredible people and get to take part in conversations that you couldn’t have imagined (I have a running conversation with one online friend about the zombie turkeys around her house and to several others I can be a Pirate King, at the same time that I’m debating branding and how to manage reputations online).

    If you want to get somebody’s attention, just @ reply them (start a message with @ and their nickname/username/nic) like “@CrazyOnYou You should just be ashamed of yourself, but probably won’t…”

    See you in Twitter!

    Gilbert (@CrazyOnYou)

  3. Meryl Evans says:

    Absolutely. Brilliant. Just going to sit here and absorb the brilliance a little longer.

    Just tweeted @merylkevans. :)

    Meryl Evanss last blog post..8 Ways to Kiss up to the Media

  4. Peter Liu says:

    Thanks for posting this. I gave a “Social Media 101” presentation last week and time was by far the biggest concern. I found this while researching a blog post of my own, where I’ll be very happy to quote you.

    I reminded my folks that there was a time when we didn’t do email either, and it ended up weaving itself into the fabric of our everyday lives.

  5. Miguel says:

    Lovely article, Havi.

    I am 39 and a big Linked in fan. It just works. I have secured both job interviews and new business through it.

    My intial skepticism aboput Facebook was quickly replaced by over 100 friends in 18 months of use – all people I went to school with and know well.

    So I like and make use of social networking. Twitter for me should be a no brainer and I have an account but so far I have failed to “get it” as Steven Fry – one of Twitter’s biggest celebrity proponents – would say.

    This post and the comments have given me a renewed interest in Twitter.

    Miguels last blog post..A Three-Part Symphony in the Foibles of Last Week: It Ain’t Easy Being Green Thumbed Movement

  6. Susan says:

    I want to get started but don’t know where to begin. If anyone can point me in the right direction, I’d really appreciate it. I’ve “learned” concepts about twitter and blogs and social networking but not how they work together or even where to start? I don’t have a website. Is that a must?

  7. Miguel says:

    Hi Susan

    I would take on one thing at a time if you’re new to this, probably with blogging if you like writing and have somethe to say.

    You don’t need your own website to start but you do need an online platform of some sort.

    I would focus on bloggin and head off to WordPress.com (which is a website where you can create a blog for fre)), open a free account and start blogging today.

    http://www.copyblogger.com is a great resource for bloggers.

    Read Sonia Simon’s blog remarkable communication for great blogging advice

    Learn from the masters!

    Good luck

    Miguels last blog post..Crunched! no more

  8. Ana says:

    Susan I think that to begin you can do a blog like Michael says. In blogger also it is free and in a few minutes you have it, it is very easy. From a blog you can show your images and to write. You can write extensive content or can write a few lines and show images. Also you can sell, in end, what you want.

    Then with more tranquility already you do your web page to yourself.

    I think that it is basic to have your blog and your own web page, it gives you a presence more personalized in the network and then already if you want to be in galleries on line or shops and networks(nets).
    To promote your blog and your page the ideal thing are the networks(nets).

    A lot of luck!!!

    Anas last blog post..Estrategias ¿funcionan?

  9. Susan says:

    Thanks, for the advice. I’ll check out those sites. I don’t think my life is interesting but, maybe I’ll learn to make it sound interesting?

  10. […] her fascinating post, she said You can decide that you’re not interested in being on Twitter. That “all this” […]

  11. […] the way, if you feel like you don’t have time for Twitter, read this great post by Havi Brooks about why you should have time. I usually agree with most of what Havi says, and this article is no […]

  12. Alan says:

    I just wanted to thank you for this disarmingly commonsensical post. I must have read it 20 times since you published it!
    .-= Alan´s last post … How to become less judgmental in 5 minutes or less (The Year of Nothing, Part 3) =-.

  13. gilcarvr
    Twitter: gilcarvr
    says:

    several months later… i can say twitter has become more interesting thanks to seesmic desktop.

    i find the plain twitter homepage is useless

    i have two completely distinct accounts for separate parts of my daily life…

    i’m unemployed… don’t blog… so perhaps i shouldn’t even comment… but i’m a technophile… always wanting to investigate and understand the next new thing…

    but i have to say, still feels like most folks are talking alone in the forest…

  14. Lisa Watson
    Twitter: drlisawatson
    says:

    I’m relatively new to Twitter and I’m surprised at how few of my colleagues are using it. I enjoy checking it every day and find it doesn’t take up nearly as much time as I would have suspected.

    Thanks for the article. I’m going to travel around the rest of your blog and see what other gems are in there.

    – Lisa

  15. Havi,

    Thanks so much for putting this in perspective. I recently started blogging and have struggled with the idea of using Social Media.

    Yes, I admit my thinking was, “I don’t have time”. However my thoughts were more along the line of social media being a “time suck” that would side-track me from my writing.

    I signed up for Twitter yesterday and ‘m checking out the Twitter for Business help pages.

    I’ve promised myself that I will use it effectively and limit the time I spend on it each day.

  16. gilcarvr
    Twitter: gilcarvr
    says:

    coming back to this post after such a long time… in March of 2009 I’d only been on twitter a couple of months, twitter did make sense to me on twitter.com… then I found Seesmic Desktop…

    and what to my wondrous eyes did appear, but communities… mostly i am a political animal… but have an alt-identity for randomness… DesertDenn…

    since seesmic allowed me “to figure twitter all out” i have adopted a policy of not allowing twitter folks to make the leap to my facebook… the two worlds don’t mesh, but in fact they collide with seriously bad consequences…

    i’ve just recently closed myspace, and have shuttered facebook for a while, or maybe for good… i’m not feeling any need to be particularly social on that site anymore…

    happy new year…

  17. […] the way, if you feel like you don’t have time for Twitter, read this great post by Havi Brooks about why you should have time. I usually agree with most of what Havi says, and this article is […]

  18. JJHausman
    Twitter: haikuczar
    says:

    The slipper part of this whole curve is how everyone posting on other people’s websites only hope to drive traffic to their own. It’s a selfish endeavor, isn’t it? Twitter does have good opportunity for bringing people together with fringe interests, though.

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