Our daughter just turned 16 and went to get her driver's license. She was very nervous and somewhat stressed out at the thought of “a test”. So she set her sights on the prize at the other end (her license), took the test, and passed!
If we take a look back at what it was like for her before she even had her learner's license, it was something like this… she was dependent on her parents, brothers, friends' parents, the transit system or her feet to get her where she wanted to go. The amount of times she could get out and socialize was limited. Her circle of influence (her friends and social life) was in turn, limited.
Just like in Social Media… we start out on Twitter, Facebook, etc. with a few followers and friends, but we don't really have the knowledge, tools and confidence to really spread our social networking reach. At least, not yet.
Then came the learner's license… more responsibility and two years of learning and building confidence. Yes, she still had to have someone in the car with her, but her influence with us, her parents, was higher as we wanted her to have as much exposure to driving as possible so that she would have the skills and confidence to get her driver's license at the end of it all. As well, the learner's license made it possible for her to take driver training… an opportunity to get the additional knowledge and confidence to reach her goal.
It's quite amazing how this works in Social Media too… once we get in and get involved, the number of people who are willing to help out and the tools we get introduced to that help in growing our circle of influence starts to grow. This also builds confidence in using social networking as a tool to reach people, build relationships and spread our message.
Now the driver's license! Freedom, responsibility, but not yet mastery. Yes, she can drive on her own, but her experience is still quite limited, her license has restrictions and she is still used to someone sitting next to her giving her guidance and encouragement. However, now that her dependence on others is lifted, she is able to get out more often, spend time with her friends and grow her relationships.
Again… Social Media… figuring out some of the tools, having built some solid relationships, and gaining more confidence in “getting involved” helps us to really grow our social networking reach. Are we experts yet? Hardly. But we are starting to get known in our circles of influence, or communities.
Next step… the full-fledged driver's license. Restrictions are lifted but the experience and knowledge required to get here are much greater. This can't happen for another two years of driving on her own inside the imposed restrictions and gaining more knowledge and confidence.
In Social Media, our “expert” status comes when we have created a community around us with the solid relationships we have been building and maintaining. As well, our circle of influence expands exponentially as our content and message is spread across the social network through the communities of those we've built the relationships with.
So… Social Media is a process with many different levels, challenges and “nervous” moments. Putting yourself out there can be a little scary at first, but once you get rolling your growth and that of your relationships and community can be quite amazing.