This blog was originally posted on February 20, 2012 as a guest post on a now unavailable blog. Rediscovering it recently in my archives, I thought it was still relevant and needed a permanent home in the Sociallogical collection.

When you walk into a room full of people, what’s the first thing you do? For me, my goal is to find people I might know and say hello.

Some businesses forget that social is about connecting with people. Most businesses still don’t see social networks as places to socialize but as mediums to broadcast and that’s a very big and costly mistake. Many, determined to continue operating as they always have, just shove their ad messages into social mediums that they'd rather avoid. (It shows).

In the Beginning: Focus

If you’re new to social media, pick a network and pay attention to it solely for a little while. Twitter is my favorite and where I’ve learned and continue to socialize with the most enjoyment. Try Google+, Linkedin, or even Facebook and get to know that one platform really well before you branch out. Mastering Twitter, however, will train you to master them all.

Get good with your first network. Own it. Find ways to reach the people and access the information you need on that one network before you branch out on the others. Trying to learn all social media all at once is bound to lead to frustration at some stage. At it is the networking part that matters so much and takes time to develop.

Those of us who found a way to enjoy being online and found success growing our careers with it, found friends and mentors to learn with. Sociallogical even built our online courses on this very concept of mentorship and learning from a small group you can trust and grow with.

Learn to Listen First

Don’t worry about what to say, pay attention to what others say and do and connect with people you want to get to know better. That’s the most important thing to do in the beginning (and always).

Observe the lingo, the method of sharing, and the type of content shared by those who YOU are drawn to and you’ll learn what others are likely drawn to.

A lot of this advice may sound familiar. And it should - it’s the advice your siblings, parents, and friends gave you when you were growing up. Nobody gets social media in the beginning and we need to relax and enjoy the learning process or it will always feel like work.