The Power of Social Media

At Cisco Live 2016, I was invited to join a panel of fellow Cisco Champions to discuss how we use social media to develop our personal brand. This was a great experience, and it has had me thinking about the true impact that social media has made over the past year that I’ve been doing this blog. I wanted to share some of the insights that I’ve gained over time, and even be introspective on what I would like to do differently moving forward.

At the last Cisco Live in 2015, I made a decision that I wanted to move in a new direction and create something that would identify myself and my online presence. Even as I read that sentence, I want to assure you that I have zero pretentiousness when it comes to this sort of thing. My online footprint dwarfs many of those that I admire, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a voice to share as well. I decided to go with the Network Introvert “brand”, as it really described my persona accurately.

Once I changed my Twitter handle and registered my domain, I then had to come up with content to fill this site. As you can see, I sometimes go a while without saying anything. I tried to make sure that at Cisco Live this year that I ran a daily recap of what my day looked like. Hopefully others enjoyed it, but I really wrote it for myself as a reminder of what happened this year.

Another big reason that I even decided to start this was to make connections online that would then translate into things in the real world. I’ve chatted with people through Twitter that I’ve then met at Live, been able to join an online CCIE study group, and most recently I was invited to Networking Field Day 12 in a few weeks. (#NFD12) None of this would have happened if I hadn’t made the conscious decision to create a brand online. My introverted personality would have taken over and made excuses to avoid in-person interaction with people.

Let me clarify that last statement as well, as I don’t want to come off as someone who doesn’t enjoy the company of others. I’m not good with small talk, as I’m someone who wants to actually get to know the real person. Unfortunately, this ends up making it difficult to start up new relationships with people. Using social media as an icebreaker has made it much more comfortable to meet people in person who I’ve talked to online through different mediums, and for an introverted person like myself, it has been a game changer.

The next aspect that I wanted to make sure I imparted on this site, as well as on my Twitter feed, was to be honest and to state things from my perspective. My goal is to not be a parrot, or someone who simply re-hashes someone else’s thoughts and ideas as their own. This isn’t always a simple feat to accomplish, as I know I’ve inadvertently taken something someone else might have written that I came across, absorbed it, then ended up saying something similar without due credit.

Coming up with topics has been something I’ve struggled with from day one. Sometimes I go weeks or months without posting anything here, but I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to write reminders to myself when an interesting topic comes to mind. Just a few days ago, there was a Cisco Champions Radio broadcast on social media, which is where my idea for this topic came to mind. I’ve had other ideas that, upon second look, seemed overly saturated and I decided against writing. I have to decide if I’m posting something for myself or for an audience, then decide on how I want to approach the subject from my own perspective. Sometimes the article takes a few minutes to write, sometimes it can take days or even weeks.

In summary, the best advice I can give to anyone struggling with creating a presence online is to ask those who you follow on Twitter or other platforms for advice in how to get started. Most people are more than willing to help out, as we all want to continue to see the community grow. I’ve been able to participate in the Cisco Champions program this year, and the experience has been great. I’ve met people both online and in person who are leaders in their industry and been able to exchange ideas about topics I hadn’t even thought of. Getting the opportunity to attend NFD12 will also be a great chance to meet up with others who are excited about where our industry is headed in the future. I encourage those who are afraid to put themselves out there to take the leap. Get involved with the social media community through Twitter, find blogs of people and read them, listen to podcasts, watch live streams of events, and find organizations like Cisco Champions to join.

~Dustin (@net_introvert)

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