I recently played in a member/guest golf tournament with my Mom. She’s a great golfer, and I play in this tournament with her every year. It goes without saying that this tournament is highly competitive. These women are serious about their golf!
Well I’m one of those golfers who has been playing for years, but you probably couldn’t tell that from my scorecard. I can hit the ball well, but I don’t practice enough to “score” consistently. A handful of pars on 18 holes with no more than two disaster holes and that’s a good round for me!
Prior to the tournament I dusted off my golf clubs to do my annual practicing while repeating to myself “I should have started sooner” (as I say every year). My clubs are hand me downs from my Mom and they are 8-10 years old. My grips were completely torn up which I had forgotten about. I didn’t yet feel comfortable going with brand new clubs given that this tournament was right around the corner, so instead I opted to have new grips put on my clubs. Wow did that make a big difference!
The new grips didn’t even come close to comparing to the golf club technology that is available today, however. When I recently did go shopping for new clubs, I could not believe how far the technology has come. Why in the world would I want to keep hacking away with my old clubs (even though they do have new grips) when the new technology can enable me to hit the ball straighter and more consistently? Why would I continue to make the game any tougher on me than it already is?
Undoubtedly I’ll be playing in the golf tournament with my Mom for years to come, so it makes sense to invest in some new clubs. Additionally it’s made me more excited about improving my game and playing more often!
I tell you this story because I couldn’t help but think that the game of golf is a somewhat of a metaphor for social media.
The Tools of the Game
If you think of social media profiles as the new tools of the game, it’s not much different than the idea of updating your outdated golf clubs with the latest technology to improve your game and your experience. I’ve always been a big believer that it’s the player, not the equipment, that matters. However, having the latest and greatest tools certainly does help. Cutting edge technology is imperative to being and staying competitive. New technology can improve the experience dramatically.
Blogging and social media are the now the business tools that can make you more competitive. These tools can potentially improve your business game and add value to your bottom line.
The Rules of the Game
There are so many rules in the game of golf I think it took me a few years to learn them all. It seems like each time I play, I get myself into a situation where I learn a new one. For example, in the recent golf tournament with my Mom I hit another person’s ball accidentally (we had the same type of ball and neither of us marked them) and took a two stroke penalty. Ouch!!! (Luckily on this particular hole it was “best ball” and my Mom had the better score)
Think about how much more you can enjoy the game of golf when you understand the rules of how to play and how to score. Also, if you understand all the rules you are less likely to make mistakes.
Likewise, learning about the way that a social network such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook operates is very similar to learning the rules of the game of golf. Your experience will completely change once you understand the rules of these social networks. You will know how to play and how to score.
It doesn’t take long to learn the rules, but you need to have the desire to learn them and commit the time to learning them. Additionally, the rules of social networks can change and you will need to keep up with those changes.
Practice, Skill, and Strategy Do Matter
Of course it’s not just the cutting edge clubs or top notch golf balls that will make you a better golfer. Just knowing the rules also won’t make you a great player. You have to practice in order to refine your skills and improve your game.
Spending time on the driving range and putting green can certainly help. Hiring a coach to help you work on your swing can also make a huge difference. Practice is the difference between those who are good at what they do and those who are GREAT at what they do.
“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
-Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
What’s your game strategy?
A simple strategy I’ve adopted in golf is to never try to hit a “go for it” shot unless I can afford the strokes. Instead, I’ll hit the simple shot to either get back into the fairway or lay up prior to going over water. This strategy is very effective for me because golfers who haven’t learned the lessons I have tend to just “go for it”. By doing so, they get into more trouble and it costs them more strokes.
Social media can work the same way. It’s critical to develop a strategy that works for you when building your network and growing your online influence.
Trying to build your digital presence without practice, skill, and strategy is just not effective. You might as well not even waste your time. You won’t be consistent enough to gain traction, and you won’t be able to differentiate yourself from your competitors effectively.
What About You?
Do you have the desire and the commitment to improve your social media game? If not, what’s holding you back? What are the fears and obstacles you face?