I’ve recently gotten really into Twitter. So much so that for days, the first thing I did in the morning was check how many new followers I gained during the night. All day I would savor the sounds my phone made whenever I got a new follower or someone retweeted or favorited a tweet. I would load and reload Twitter, staring as the numbers went up, feeling like I had accomplished something.
With Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, our social success now literally seems quantifiable. How many LinkedIn connections do you have? How many Facebook likes?
Our social media numbers do tell a story. But the story they tell is more about our online proficiency, more about how much time we’ve spent learning the various platforms, than it is about actual relationships. Don’t get me wrong – I still want more Twitter followers. But it makes me feel a bit hollow to think that my number of followers means something about me as a human being.
We all have a social scorecard in our minds. It started in elementary school. How many birthday parties were you invited to? In middle school, it was about the number of boys that asked us out. And now, it’s about social media. We are obsessed with getting people to like us, to follow us.
But doing this is missing the point. And the point is relationships that matter.
My best friend Danielle and I started a business together. She and I have helped each other through the struggles and triumphs of working for ourselves. We went to Austin, Texas together and ate a donut the size of our heads. And whether I have 30 Twitter followers or 3,000, I know I can call her and have a deep conversation any time.
Relationships that matter are the friends that support and inspire you, the clients that you can’t wait to help, the colleagues that you trust so much you actively look for people to refer to them, the mentors that make you realize why your work is important.
It’s easy to see the surface numbers on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. But what about the invisible data? The data about the quality of your relationships?
Here are my new measures of success:
1. The number of times you’ve followed through on what you said you’d do
2. The number of people you’ve really, truly helped today
3. The number of times you asked about someone else before telling them about yourself
4. The number of times you’ve opened up and welcomed a deep heartfelt connection, even if you had to be vulnerable in the process
5. The number of people who have taken time to thank you for your contribution to their lives
6. The number of people you can call when you really need to talk to someone
7. The number of times you were truly present with another human being
8. The number of deep conversations you had
At the end of the day, real relationships take time and effort. And it’s those relationships that keep you motivated to keep doing your business, those relationships that help you thrive and innovate, those relationships that make you successful.
So the next time you’re checking how many new followers you got today, remember to also check how many valuable conversations you had, how many true connections you made, how many relationships you spent time building.
And then put your phone away and be present.