Downsizing Social Media while Simultaneously Expanding my Network
Many of us are understandably hesitant to cut down any social interaction as we progress through a pandemic already doing so. While you may be content with your social life, checking in with yourself is important. For example, reflecting on how you stand with your digital footprint can bring about inspiration and aspiration between where you are now and where you want to be.
In my case, I found myself thinking my followers on my personal page won’t care about my photography/video clips. I was holding myself back, knew it, and was unhappy I was letting something like this become a barrier. After a few years of hiatus, I not only posted photos yet began posting reels on my portfolio account. I am now having the highest engagement to date, however, this is not my motivation for posting. Look for results and gratification beyond the numbers. My fulfillment is adding more personal, human touches to my professional accounts and portfolio. I also find myself interacting more with my following through story replies and comments on posts.
After graduating with my Bachelors in May, I removed some LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram users as part of a "Spring Cleaning" with my social media. I switched from using my personal Instagram (500 followers) to my portfolio account (150 followers). Ironically, I have more confidence with a public account with fewer followers than my private one. I quickly realized this theme unintentionally extended to my professional development.
I went from attending conferences with 300-1700 participants a year to attending one with 30 people. I found my experience in Portland with 30 strangers later turned to 30 people I have memories, inside jokes, and common interests with - more than any other conference I've been to.
During this trip, I bonded with others both personally and professionally at unexpected times: bus rides, dinners, visiting the waterfalls with Carolyn and Fatima, breakout sessions discussing consumer behavior, listening to our doughnut tour guide telling us about Portland history, stumbling across a bridge with breathtaking views while (barely) navigating bike lanes on a scooter, and an activity where we incessantly asked each other, "What's good about your life?" Looking back, while I was in a larger group for these, these interactions all involved five people at most.
As a disclaimer, experiences with hundreds or thousands of people are not meaningless. Rather, taking the time to establish meaningful connections is where you'll find value.
Spending a few minutes speaking with one person may be more beneficial than passing out business cards and sending LinkedIn connection requests to as many people you can greet in that same time.
I encourage all to identify what would fulfill them socially and make changes to pursue this. For those whose industry and/or work requires a robust network or do not want to lose years’ worth of networking, deleting social media or reducing interactions are not an option. Yet, there is a solution waiting to be discovered - whether macro or micro, any change could make an immeasurable impact.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the National Millennial and Generation Z Community, CSz, Partners in Diversity/Portland Business Alliance, the Oregonian, Intel, Portland Coffee Roasters, Brooks Winery, Tillamook, FrogQuest, and Travel Portland for this learning experience. Lastly, I would like to thank Sarah Albuquerque, Isabela "Bela" Ricardo, and Fatima Izzat for being the best people to represent Western Connecticut State University with.