Recent research indicates that the average individual listens for only 17 seconds before interrupting and interjecting his/her own ideas.
In social media it usually works like this:
I see that there over 100 million people on Facebook, Bebo, Xing, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter etc., etc., etc. I think, "Wow, I need to get involved. Maybe something good could happen for me." I register, fill out my profile and then start connecting with everyone I know and a bunch of people I barely know or would like to know. I join some groups and ask everyone to connect with me. I spend hours making comments, posting stuff, sending people cutesy flair, etc., etc., etc. It's interesting and even a little fun but nothing is really happening other than a bunch of my old girlfriends are trying to get in my friends list. Lots of talk and no real action (business-wise that is) Hmmm. Why am I not having any luck making something happen?
I think it's because you didn't spend time listening first.
Here's another scenario:
"Wow, I need to get involved..." You google social media and find some interesting articles that talk about the different reasons people get involved with social media. Some of them actually cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. But you now understand the type of people you want to be in touch with to accomplish something. In this case finding resources and networking for business opportunities. You decide to spend some time on each of the most popular social media sites and learn about the tools available for each. You search the groups and find several that seem to fit your interests. You take the time to read some of the posts and comments in the groups and decide on 3 that are great fits. By this time you realize that getting involved with all the social media sites you can find is impossible. But you can manage 2 or maybe 3. You find that there are ways to post once and have it show up on multiple sites. Efficiency is my friend you think. There's more to learn so you continue to monitor posts and follow links to learn more about the people that are saying what you're thinking. You contact a couple through e-mail and find that they are full of advice. You ask about results and listen extremely closely when you hear what some have been able to accomplish. Now its time to get involved... and maybe think about starting a business helping others accomplish their goals through social media... maybe even write a book about it... (that's what David Meerman Scott did).
Listen, Learn and Act,