Where do you hang out?

August 7, 2009

It’s been a few weeks since I read Seth Godin’s post on “social norms”, but it made an impression on a couple of levels:

1) On a macro level it reminded me of what I’ve tended to call the phenomenon of people hanging out with “like types”.  We hang out w/ people from the same class at school, with the same interests, those that went to the same college, single people hang w/ other singles, married people/no kids w/ other dinks, married people w/ children hang w/ the parents of their kids friends, etc.

2) In the more immediate sense, as someone frequently overloaded with the explosion of communication tools that can make one look like a Luddite for “only” using a cell phone and e-mail, it becomes confusing as to where & how to find and get in touch with people that you need to connect with.

The second one, to me at least, is more or less where Seth’s blog is aimed: if you want to connect with someone (personally, professionally, or both) you need to figure out where they “hang out”.  If they have 1000’s of followers on Twitter and tweet in the double digits every day, then they might not be reading your e-mails but a clever @theirtwittername reply might get their attention.  On the other hand, if they think twitter is something that birds do then their channel’s not tuned to your twitterverse if that’s where you’re hanging out.  Ditto for Facebook, LinkedIn, texting, e-mail, voicemail, IM, snailmail, etc.  Think about how they’re communicating, or not, with you and others and figure out how to get in sync using the same method they’re using.  Or, as Godin puts it act “the way they do”.  If you’re not sure, and it’s somebody that’s important for you to connect with then ask around of others that may know them better.  Kind of like figuring out what bar somebody’s hanging at on campus, or what club, neighborhood, favorite lunch place, coffee shop, you get the picture . . .

Seems simple enough, but can be hard to execute if you’re in multiple places using multiple channels of communication (guilty as charged, although I like to think of it as being multi-lingual – others would call it scattered!).  Also, don’t be offended or feel like somebody doesn’t “like you” when they’re not responding to your voicemail, e-mail, commenting on your Facebook status, etc.  They could easily be suffering from information and communication overload, or they could be hanging out somewhere besides where you’re trying to find them.  So, for those you want to reach on a regular basis, figure out where they like to play and go join them there.  Keep in mind that it can change over time or frequently if they use multiple modes of communication.  Better yet, get out and meet them in person (IRL).