There were questions in the audience about social media and how do they do it. I thought, “Compared to what you’re doing right now, social media is easy. You’re showing up.”

This is another Easy One That’s Hard. All you have to do is step out the door. From that point, you don’t have to worry about starting, you’re already in progress. But you need to take that first step. Once you’re there, you can decide what level you want to bring it up to, but you did the hard part.

Step One: Open Door.

I went to an event last night put on by Left Coast Writers. I hadn’t been to one of their events in years, but I got a last-minute call from a friend inviting me to come and I was interested in the speaker: Brooke Warner, author of What’s Your Book? A Step-by-Step Guide to Get You from Inspiration to Published Author. I opened the door to leave the comfort of my own world, to brave the elements, to mingle with humans. Yikes!

Dramatic? OK, OK, but think about how often you don’t go to an event and regret it. Think about those who did go and let you know what you missed. They opened the door.

Step Two: Step Out.

That door is open, but you still have to take that first step out. Why are you going? What kind of an event are you going to make it? Do you have a plan? Is it just for pleasure, to be entertained, or are you hoping to learn something, maybe make a connection? Do you have a goal in mind? Is it measurable?

Step Three: Show Up.

For most, this is the hardest part. Step one and step two get me to the event. Admittedly, big steps. Now you have a decision to make. Here are your options, in increasing levels of difficulty, pain, and awkwardness:

  1. Sit in corner and hope no one talks to you. 
  2. Sit in corner and wave to someone you sorta know.
  3. Sit next to someone I sorta know and hope she doesn’t talk to you (too much).
  4. Sit next to someone you sorta know and ask her what she’s working on.
  5. Sit next to someone you don’t know and hope she doesn’t talk to me (too much).
  6. Sit next to someone you don’t know and ask her what she’s working on.
  7. Sit between two people you don’t know and ask them both.
  8. Raise your hand to ask the speaker a question.
  9. Talk to the speaker afterwards about her book.
  10. Talk to the speaker afterwards about her book and your project.
  11. Talk to the speaker afterwards about her book and your project and how you could help her and she could help you.

Take it slow. If #1 sounds about your speed, crank it up to #4 for an evening. Just to get out of your comfort zone. What do you have to lose? They bite you? They smell? What are the upsides? Maybe they’re working on a project similar to yours. Maybe they’re just friendly. Maybe they’ll offer you a cookie.

Could social media just be an online salon/party/event?

As I mentioned, several in the audience asked about social media: how it worked, how to do it, how often, what to say, where to go. Sure, they didn’t get the technology behind it, but I thought that they already had a huge advantage over those who weren’t at the event: they were there, they were present, they were asking even questions, they were curious and interested in getting answers. What they didn’t understand was that social media is just the online version of the physical event. It’s the same thing and you have the same options when you show up. You can make it as small or big of an event as you’d like to depending on how involved you’d like to be. With social media, you don’t even need to put on shoes.

[quote]Wondering what to do on Twitter? See the 11 steps above. It’s the same thing.[/quote]

Being present, going to the event, talking with your neighbors, raising your hand, talking with the speaker afterwards, asking for her card, suggesting an interview. It’s up to you to arrive at the level you’re comfortable with. Keep it comfortable for a while, but next event, take it to the next level, see what happens. Ask yourself what the worst outcome is–and the best–and weigh your odds. Then open the door, step out, and show up.

  • Possible: go to tonight’s event (and sit in the corner silently)
  • Impossible: go to last night’s event
  • Repossible: go to the event and show up
That's a BIG door.

That’s a BIG door.