Personal vs Personable

One of my number one tips for success in the social space is to engage with others as a person. Don’t just broadcast information, you need to interact, respond, and be friendly.

In direct response, one of the biggest reasons I hear from people about not wanting to get onto the social web is that they don’t want to share their personal information online. Here is my response:

You don’t have to be personal to be personable.

If you don’t want to give out any personal information online, you can do that and still be friendly and engaging.  You can share information you find interesting, you can give your commentary on something someone else has said, you can even say you’ve tried a certain restaurant or kind of food without ever giving out the kind of information you feel is inappropriate to have online.

You do it all the time.

Think about the countless conversations you’ve had at networking events, at work, or in line at the grocery store - people have friendly encounters regularly without really divulging anything too personal about themselves.  This is especially true in work settings.  Transfer this to the online space and you can build relationships that are professional in nature while still building that personal connection that makes networking so important in just about every industry.

Trust your gut.

There are people who share nothing and there are people who over-share - this is true offline as well as online.  Decide what feels right for you and go with it.  Some people are fine with sharing personal information about their families and pastimes and that’s ok. Some aren’t, and that’s ok too.  Being true to yourself is what’s most important online and is what will make the experience as authentic and enjoyable as possible.

Do you worry about the information you share online? Does it stop you from participating?