All Articles Leadership Careers The 140-character comeback strategy

The 140-character comeback strategy

4 min read


The other day I was talking with a highly accomplished HR consultant, whose business took a real beating during the market downturn. Before long, our chat morphed into a focused discussion around her expertise, and I found myself taking notes. “Say,” I said, “how’s about we make this official, and I write an article based on your advice and quoting you?” Instead of saying, “Gee, that would be swell,”  she treated me to a 15-minute monologue about what a lousy marketer she is.

What a shame. Her recent troubles had punched the spirit right out of her. And now she leads with her weaknesses, instead of her strengths.  She’s not the only one.  To some degree or another, we all derive at least a little bit of our self-worth from how much we’re wanted in the marketplace. And in the past 18 to 24 months, our collective self-worth deficit has taken a hit.  So how do we get that mojo back so we can job hunt, market our business or promote ourselves effectively?

Here’s where social media can come in very handy. We know about the advantages of LinkedIn and Twitter as tools for landing the next gig, but social media is also invaluable for helping us change our minds about ourselves.  Are you a hammered survivor of some really crappy times, limping, wounded and ineffectual?  Or are you a sharp-thinking, highly productive, thought leader who is passionate about your life’s work? With social media, the choice is entirely yours as to which image you want to build up.

It’s the ultimate self-esteem recovery plan. “Tweet as if,” so to speak.

For advice on this topic, I called my friend, Libby Gill, an executive coach and author of the book, “You Unstuck: Mastering the New Rules of Risk Taking in Work and In Life.” Here’s what she had to say:

“Social media is like moving to a new high school. You can leave everything that’s negative behind you, and put everything positive that you want to feature in the foreground,” Gill says. “The people you meet via social media don’t know you’ve been out of work for 2.5 years and just lost your house.  And they don’t have to. That information isn’t valuable to them. What you have to offer them is.  And you can reinvent yourself by focusing on that.”

The keys to using social media to mend your self-esteem are pretty much the same keys you would use to build out your networks and find new work.  Add value to conversations already on a roll. Contribute eye-opening insights into topics that might have gone a little tired.  Tell brief, witty stories about some aspect of your world that will make people laugh and follow you. Get active in new groups that are tangential to the ones populated by folks who already know you. Be retweet-worthy but also be generous in spreading the word about others.  Discover other people whose work you admire and tell the world about them. By the time you’re ready to emerge,  you will have cultivated a circle of relationships with people who will be so glad to tell the world about you, too.

“Success has always been about relationships,” says Gill. “And social media is such a great way to build relationships with people who know you  mainly as a generous source of valuable information. When the time comes to meet those people in person, you have that rich relationship already in place.  You will be known in the context of who you are now, instead of what kind of past you just survived.”

Image credit: Creativeye99, via iStock