A while ago, I was like many people when they first come across #blogchat on Twitter. I quietly lurked. I read the tweets as they flew by; trying to pick up on what was happening. Honestly things moved so quickly during the hour of this particular Twitter chat that I wasn’t sure if I would ever really figure out what was going on. That said, I was intrigued – so I kept coming back and watching. Eventually, one day I decided to throw a tweet out there. I didn’t know what to expect, yet I knew that in order to learn I needed to engage. Several people immediately responded and made me feel welcome. They encouraged me to stay and participate. They answered my questions. From that day forward, I decided that I would participate in #blogchat as often as I could and I would expand my blogging horizons by really working to connect with the people I met. I also quickly came to understand that there is a spirit of generosity that exists within the #blogchat community. I believe that this is one of the key reasons why #blogchat has become such a successful online twitter community.
Here are the stats from Sunday night’s #blogchat session:
What Generosity Is & Why It Matters
According to Wikipedia Generosity is the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need. Often equated with charity as a virtue, generosity is widely accepted in society as a desirable trait.
I was thinking about this tonight after Mack Collier, founder of #blogchat, and I exchanged some tweets. For a long time I have known that generosity exists online, however tonight I thought about the many wonderful exchanges that I had seen unfolding during #blogchat. I thought about the real people that exist behind the avatars that fly by in my Twitter stream. I realized that people like Mack, who go out of there way to ensure folks feel supported and connected both inside and outside of #blogchat, truly are very important mentors to all of us. I also realized that who I now am and how I act within the world of social media have been both influenced and transformed by people such as Mack. I am incredibly fortunate to have an increasing number of these types of people surrounding and guiding me online everyday. They go out of their way to support me, to strengthen me, to make me feel valued and to teach me. They do it while expecting nothing for themselves in return from me. It is an incredible gift and I am truly thankful for what they are teaching me.
I believe there are few things more important or valuable than coming to understand the power of generosity. Often you hear people say things such as, “what goes around comes around”. Of course, this is a valuable lesson in life. However, I don’t believe it is why we should practice generosity. It is not about what you can receive in return for your actions. It is always about what you can give. Think about the last time someone did something for you that was generous. It could have been a little thing or a even big thing, but just consider how it made you feel. In that moment maybe your breath was taken away or you felt as if you were truly valued or respected in some way. Whatever it was that you felt, you know that you remember it. It was magic. Everyone should know that feeling, yet far too many people go through life not experiencing the gift of generosity. The truth is that by giving to someone, you can empower them to do amazing things. Generosity can be the fuel to get them through a challenge, a confusion or difficult decision. It can open doors. It can enable them to create change for the better. The gift of generosity can make all the difference in a person’s day, week, year or life. The best part is that social media gives us the power to be generous to people everywhere. The online world is a very small and connected place.
Here are six ways you can practice generosity within the world of social media:
- Go out of your way to find people to connect with on Twitter or Google+ with no expectation of anything in return. Simply find people who interest you and then begin to build a relationship with them by being genuinely interested in what they are trying to do. Reach out to them. Engage with them. Promote them.
- Reach out to online connections who you have not seen around Twitter or elsewhere for a while. Check in and see how things are in their world. See if they are ok. Tell them you miss them. Encourage them.
- Offer to help someone who is new to Twitter, to Google+ or elsewhere online. Guide them, answer their questions, support them as they learn. Stay with them until they are confident.
- Find bloggers who are trying to improve their skills and offer them tips, suggestions and strategies. Actually go to their blog and take the time to give them constructive feedback. Help them find their voice. Many bloggers struggle with this and they will appreciate your support.
- The next time someone tweets that they would like coffee or something else….if you are close by – make it happen. People usually don’t tweet about stuff like that unless they actually mean it. Your kindness will be remembered.
- If you have been going to an event for a long time, reach out to the new people who are attending. Offer to help them connect with others or take ten minutes to have a chat with them. Say hello to them. Make them feel part of the group. Listen to them.
People matter. Help them to also experience the transforming powers of generosity within the world of social media. You will be glad you did.
What kinds of generosity have you experienced online? Who are your generosity mentors in the world of social media? How do you practice generosity?