Diana Huff points out the obvious, which is often anything but: relationships are crucial in most areas of human endeavor, and yet hard to measure. Her post, “Social Media: Don’t Expect a Marriage Proposal on the First Date,” uses as an example a contact she developed (and that’s really too strong a word, since it implies a conscious agenda) over a period of years in the old-fashioned face-to-face days. She says:
If I had asked [my contact] if she was going to send me work while sitting at that BMA dinner meeting, do you think she would have hired me a year later? Hell no!
It’s the same for social media. You can’t expect people to send you “juicy fat contracts” simply because they’re following you on Twitter.
And yet that’s exactly what many observers of current social media seem to expect, saying implicitly or explicitly that Twitter is a waste of time unless you can track an almost immediate return on investment.
When you’re planting corn, you can tell how much of it came up in a given year. When you are cultivating a forest, you can’t tell the effects of your efforts for a long time, and even when you can see them, you likely will have no idea which seed led ultimately to which trees. As the old saying goes, you can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.
My take? Whether through Twitter and Facebook, or the old fashioned way of simply being interested in people, cultivate your relationships–not just so you can make a buck, but so you can make a life. When you do, the bucks come much more easily, and much more enjoyably to boot.