Some people do not feel too comfortable in their social suit. Perhaps you will recognize a few of the following six "left sharks".
Shark #1 - the noise making shark
This shark may not realize that he posts short messages or status updates that bring no value to others, creating noise. Think twice before tweeting or posting an update. Is it complete? Will it be clear to others? Reread it. Don't post your day's agenda unless it has value for many, many followers. Instead, share something you searched for and found, something you learned. Think of saving your followers time by providing a link to your discovery. Make it easy for them, easier than it was for you. Explain why this is valuable.
Shark #2 - the excessive collector shark
Subscribing to threads, to forums, to wikis, to communities to receive updates in newsletters, is a great way to pull the information. But too much information is as bad as not enough. Avoid the tsunami of news. Be selective. Review your subscription regularly. Unsubscribe if you have not been there in a month.
Shark #3 - the ambivalent community owning shark
Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a community and you are looking forward to great conversations in this space. State the intended purpose of the community. Make it clear and ensure it is respected. Irrelevant posts confuse the crowd's radar. By ensuring pertinence, you help build a sense of orientation.
Shark #4 - the over generous blogging shark
A blog post is not a place to write a book. Some use as a rule of thumb, no more than one next screen, others 1000 words. If you have lots to say, break it up in smaller consumable chunks of news, in a journalistic style, respecting the readers' time.
Shark #5 - the disoriented shark
You felt more in control with your mailbox and file system. Now, you are stuck navigating along this reef that doesn't always look familiar, sometimes finding yourself vulnerable in shallow water. Don't try to master everything at once. Take it one step at a time and gradually build your mastery.
Shark #6 - the aggressive shark
Don't post on an impulse when upset. Swimming in troubled waters has never been good for anyone, no matter what the communication tool is. Swim a couple of rounds, a few miles, before you interact.
I hope one or a few of the tips above will help you test the waters and improve your sense of belonging!
Diane Morneau, M.Sc.
Manager of Communications, Offerings and Knowledge Development
Based in Canada, Diane has been working in IBM's Collaboration Services division for eighteen years. Her team supports the Social Business Support and Services teams for their Communications, Marketing, Service Offerings, Knowledge Management and Education needs. Her favorite blogging topics are subjects related to creativity and innovation.