The only time you hear about a texting story gone horribly wrong - it's usually in the news, either associated with big names like former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Chris Brown and Rihanna or it’s super sensational like the sad story of the girl who killed herself after naked pictures of her were sent out to schoolmates.
But there's a whole lot of texting, emailing and instant messaging that's wrecking relationships, jobs and friendships. And that will never make it to the headlines. I'm not talking about what I've heard. I'm talking about what I know. In fairness, I spend more time than the average person on line and on my cell. To the frustration of almost every friend I have over 40. I text way more than I talk. So it stands to reason that I would have more than my share of cyberspace snafus. The one way to ensure that you won't get into trouble online is to take yourself out of the game.
I’ve actually heard people say they will never get jammed up because they don’t text, they don’t have a MySpace account and they don’t use the internet to do anything except check their e-mail. If this is the way you think you may be consider yourself safe, but being safe has never been the recipe for success. If you're doing serious business and serious life in 2009, you have got to aggressively and creatively take advantage of what's out there. Closing our minds to technology is closing our minds to all kinds of financial and social opportunities and who can afford that? I sure can't.
I pride myself at being adventurous in most areas of my life. I've made bold career moves life moves and love moves and my boldness has served me well. So, I wouldn’t dream of tip toeing through the high tech territory that is constantly changing.
As a black woman in an uncertain economy in a shaky industry, I need to be on top of every advantage available to me. As daunting as technology is to some - for black people who aren’t afraid it is a way for us to have finally been at the front of a revolution and in some ways compete on a level playing field for the first time in our history.
There was a time when we weren’t allowed to learn to read, and even decades after the end of slavery, the education that most black people received was not equal to their white counterparts. Almost everything we’ve been part of in this country we’ve had to struggle to be on par with mainstream America simply because we never started out with the same advantages. Even with the evolution of cyberspace, some groups of people seem to be ahead of the game. The more money you have the more likely it is that you would have had a computer in your home. But many African Americans (with video game systems and plasma Tvs I might add) have not made computers a priority and only have use of the internet on their jobs. But a whole lot of us jumped on the Super Information Highway like we belonged there back in the 90s and have never looked back. The beauty of that is we have the chance to drive side by side or blow past mainstream America because for once we have access to everything they have.
But of course it can only work for us if we know how to use it. And when I say work for us - I really mean make us some money. And for that, we need to take our knowledge of the internet it and bring it in to the social networking forumn.
So for some practical learning:
A social network is a way of connecting people and/or organizations and businesses together for mutual benefits. This network is comprised of ties and nodes, where the node is the individual and the tie is the link between them. Yes - it's like the business card on steroids.
Now, here are 5 steps to making social networking work for you.
Step 1: Use it to find customers directly. You can use the idea of “birds of a feather flock together” to arrange the best social networking. If you are selling a new kind of headset, you will want to find social networks of music lovers.
Step 2: Use word of mouth. If you are in a social networking group, you can also use it to advertise indirectly. Try getting people in social networks that are related indirectly to yours to spread the word. This can be some of the best social networking because they will be talking to people who trust them.
Step 3: Form relationships. The best social networking is long term, whether it’s for business or pleasure. This way people learn who they can trust online, and you should strive to be one of those--and only time can develop trust.
Step 4: Finding new ideas. You can use social networking to find new ideas for your business. For instance, if someone in your network needs something you can provide but don’t as of yet, you could consider it as an additional money-maker in the future.
Step 5: Be reliable and consistent. Your continued business is based on continued participation and trust. In other words, once you have established yourself through the best social networking practices, be there.
One important note: these steps can work for a physical business or for the business of YOU. After all - what better product to market than yourself.
So, if you’re a black woman like me competing for a spot on this universe where you can stretch out far enough to become what God intended for you to be, please don’t limit yourself by being fearful of something that can enhance your life. Yes, that funny, witty sarcastic remark about your supervisor intended just for your co-worker but got sent throughout the company because you accidentally hit reply to all, could get you fired. But so will allowing the company intern fresh out of college to make you look bad because she knows how to tweet, navigate facebook or utter something brilliant on utterli.com and you’ve never heard of it.
Hell - my dad just sent me a Facebook friendship request! Let's get with it people.
You can keep your negative internet and texting incidents down to a minimum simply by understanding has much as you can about what you’re using and paying close attention. And really, this is just a common sense rule that fits most situations. The larger issue is in today’s world you can’t be afraid to tackle and become an expert at the technology that’s out there. Take a class, hire a tutor, do whatever it takes to make feel comfortable about expanding your mind and embracing the revolution that most of us are already fighting for. Woman up and you’ll discover a new freedom and equality and the ability to do more than survive in this business world but to compete and win.