Leaders Are Readers And Social Media Counts

"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers" - Harry S Trueman

Knowledge at your fingertips!

Trueman's quote is one of my all time favorites! I've said it before, but I choke when people state that they read maybe 1-2 books a year!  I read that number or more in a week.  There is so much in the world to learn  and so little time to absorb it all. Reading opens up your mind and makes it so easy to share and learn from  others. The internet has really placed the world at our feet and we have a virtual library in the phones that are attached to our bodies.

There's a lot of chatter out in the cyber world about how social media is rotting all of our brains. People are too absorbed in social media on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. Guess what? I don't agree. Social media is like your education - it's what you do with it. You can be a genius but if you don't put it to use, what good is it? Social media can educate you, help you engage, and open up your mind. However, you won't get these benefits if you use your time stalking people all day on Facebook or tweeting mindless thoughts to your friends on Twitter. Use social media to your advantage - to learn.

I'm active on most of the top social networks. I follow thought leaders and numerous business channels. In the past 6 months I've become very active on channels such as Facebook but not for the reasons that you think. I don't have 5000 friends nor do I want to! I have joined a lot of groups focusing on my favorite business issues and gardening. Wow! There is a lot information to be gleaned from others!

We all love to share our passion with those who understand us. I have found some great communities within social media on gardening. I learn something new every day and can swap ideas or even plants. I have connected with gardeners in England and admire the gardening craft there. I have an outdoor cactus garden and connect with groups about cactus and succulents. Some of the groups that I follow include: Pruning Tips, Gardenaholics Anonymous, Miniature Conifers, The Plant Exchange, The Garden Club. The list is endless. I literally have experts on call that I can interact and share with - for free! I have even joined gardening groups on LinkedIn such as Horticulture, Master Gardeners, Garden Design, and Healing Garden. Some of the top thought leaders in gardening are a part of these groups. I learn  more about the industry and new plant introductions. Don't even get me started on Twitter. There is a wealth of sharing and great pics as well.

Put social media to work for you as a learning and connection tool and you can quickly become overwhelmed. Start with sites such as Facebook and grow from there. I have found that so many of the leaders I follow and interact with are on several channels and it's such a blessing to be able to join them.

"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader" - Margaret Fuller"

Photo courtesy of mgysler via Compfight

We have become an on demand "give it to me now" society and technology continues to accelerate at a dizzy pace. Every day we have new tools at our command to literally bring the world to us. Don't let the world fly by. Jump into reading and learning every chance that you can. We all have some spare time and you need to make it a priority to invest in yourself. If you really can't make time for books (you do know that you can get them online these days right? You can have 50 books in your pocket) then use social media to grow. There are a lot of options out there to pull in new ideas and knowledge. Seek them out and get started.

I was just lamenting this week how frustrating it is to have the ability to only follow 50 groups on LinkedIn. Too many options and too little space. I have found myself making tough choices about which groups to unfollow so that I can join another group, depending on interests. Other platforms are more generous. Do I interact with all of them? Of course not. What I do is soak up articles and thoughts that appeal to me or my work. For instance,  I'm working on improving my speaking skills so what better way to find some tips then joining groups that discuss strategy and share what's worked for them? I have also had the privilege of  interacting with leaders via Google Hangouts and Twitter chats.

Jump in and dabble in some groups where your interests lie. Start small and start the learning curve somewhere. For instance, I love my feeds from Facebook. I follow brands like Fast Co, Inc, Forbes Women, Lead With Giants, Social Media Examiner, Entrepreneur, the list goes on. On LinkedIn I am privileged to be a part of Leadership Hub, Forbes Leadership, Mobile Marketing, Connect Professional Women, and Social Media Today. Imagine the knowledge and ideas that I soak in daily! Twitter offers an untold amount of articles and the ability to share directly with authors and thought leaders. You need to get yourself "out there" and share what you know. If you are hesitant, here's a great article from Fast Company to convince you and get you going Fast Company 15 minutes a day

To be an effective leader you really need to take control of your learning today. Read read read. Share your experiences with others as well. You too have so much to contribute. We are all experts on something and the world awaits your ideas and thoughts.  If books are not for you, make social media your library. Quit wasting your time just flipping through your friend's posts - join groups that invite you to learn and share.

I would love to hear which social platforms are your favorites and how you use them to grow!