Last year Facebook passed up Google for the most visited site in the world. What an interesting trend we are seeing, where people are searching for connections more than answers. Yet, for many, the full potential of social media eludes them.
One of the most impressive benefits I’ve found from social media has come from making powerful connections with my idols, mentors, and people I looked up to. We live in a remarkable time where the barriers to reaching those people are now lower than ever.
How I Met Brian Bendis From Marvel Comics
Ever since I was little, I have been a fan of superheroes. At the age of 8, I was fighting Leukemia and spent many days at Phoenix Children’s Cancer Center. One of the distractions I took advantage of was painting the hospital window of my room with whatever lit on my imagination. With my mother’s help, Spider-Man and Wolverine would watch over me as I underwent chemotherapy, surgeries, and any other cancer treatment. Those images stuck with me as I looked back on the successful life I’ve had from over a decade in remission.
Coming out of cancer survival, I had one person I always wanted to meet, Brian Michael Bendis.
Very few people outside of the comic book industry probably know who Brian M. Bendis is. However, he happens to be one of Marvel’s top writers. He’s won 5 Eisner Awards (picture Oscar’s for Comics), 9 Best Writer of the Year Awards, and many other nominations.
Thanks to the power of social media, I’ve now met with Brian Bendis, as well as made connections with other writers, artists, and industry giants. Furthermore, it has led to amazing opportunities where I’ve received autographs, read scripts, and more. All from following 6 essential steps.
6 Steps to Make Powerful Connections
Even though I use the writers, artists, and creators of one particular hobby as an example, these same steps can be used to make connections with future employers, your inspirers, business leaders, authors, more.
- Identify Those You Want to Connect With
Do you remember how it felt when you were a kid at Disneyland the first time? You were excited for the rides, but you also were probably excited to meet the different characters.
Our grown up lives are not much different. We all have those people who if we happened to see on the street we’d die to go up and get a picture with, ask some questions, or get lunch together.
Before you can make connections through social media you have to know who you want to connect with.
Ever go to a book signing when you haven’t read the author’s book? Interviewed for a job without researching what the company did? Of course not, so why would you expect to start building a new relationship with someone without knowing more about them on a personal level? This may be one of the most crucial steps to connecting with others, so do it right.
The other part to this step is knowing what to listen for. It’s quite simple, PASSION. Just because someone is a movie star, a Grammy winner, or a National Best Seller, doesn’t mean they don’t have their own personal passions.
When I found out Brian Bendis was going to be in town I prepared. I listened to detailed hour long interviews he gave to special niche bloggers and friends. I found out from listening that his daughter at only 8 years old was co creating a new graphic novel with him. What could a father be more excited for? When I got to meet him in a crowd of hundreds, I knew what to really ask. Bendis answered question after question about all the popular books and characters, Iron-Man, Spider-Man, and The Avengers. I then asked him, “Can you tell us about your daughter’s involvement with Takio, the book she is co-creating.” He smiled and went on to share a great story. Afterwards, when I spoke with him one on one, he thanked me for asking thoughtful questions, signed some books, took a picture with me and then followed up with me on Twitter. All this because I had listened.
Once you have identified and listened to what your connection is passionate about and where you can connect, the interaction becomes easier.
See if they have a Facebook fan page, Twitter account, or LinkedIn profile. Google them to see if they have a blog or site as well. Once you have an avenue to interact, make a positive first impression.
Another important note is to interact with the people they communicate with as well. So if you have a leader in a particular field you want to get in touch with, see who they follow, friend, and share information from. Then put yourself in their circle by taking the next step.
Possibly one of the reasons Facebook was able to pass Google in ranking was because of its ability to contribute what people wanted. We didn’t have to search for that funny video or topical article, because “so and so” on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter is already finding those things for me.
If you want to make strong connections, you need to be recognized as a contributor as well. Find ways to add to the industry of those you want to connect with. If you know what they are passionate about, keep an eye open for any fascinating articles, videos, or content that they would love to see.
For instance, I made a twitter account just for comic book related matters so I could contribute to that industry and therefore make connections with those involved as well. One person I wanted to reach out to was Johnjay Van Es, a popular radio dj who has 10’s of thousands of followers he might be able to send my way. Asking him directly to do that would never work, so I thought of a clever way to get his attention. After listening, I knew he always had a strong self-image. I thought he carried a resemblance to Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, so I took five minutes to edit a side by side image and sent it to him saying I saw a mighty resemblance. Two seconds later he was sharing it with all of his own followers and sent me his own comments.
- Be Interesting, Relative, or Entertaining
Making connections requires work, but it can be a lot of fun as well. I’ve found if you want to get the USEFUL attention you need to be interesting, relative, or entertaining.
Even though comics carry such a negative connotation and are seen as a very small niche, I gathered many mainstream followers by commenting on current events and pop culture from a superhero perspective.
The tweet below on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell beat out Barak Obama’s tweet on the same topic.
“All this #DADT talk makes Thor really excited. Finally Batman and Robin can enlist in thee army without fear!”
- Be Consistent
The last thing to help you connect through social media is to be consistent. Just as a NBA pro has to keep making baskets or a pilot needs to land airplanes, to thrive in social media you need to be consistently interesting.
If it feels like a chore, than consider if you are passionate about the people you are connecting with. If they aren’t the Mickey Mouse of Goofy of your childhood dreams, than they might not be worth the effort.