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Learning to blog and use social media requires making mistakes


LinkedIn asked Mashable founder and CEO, Pete Cashmore (@petecashmore), for his best advice to fellow business people.

Make mistakes, your own mistakes answered Cashmore.

As an entrepreneur in my early 20s, I believed in the mantra, “Don’t take advice; make your own mistakes.” I still believe in part of this — guess which part?

Every single day, I take advice from my team, mainly in the form of their examples.

When you work with a talented team, taking risks and trying new things doesn’t feel like “taking risks.” I have learned to not only trust those who I work with to see company efforts through, but to empower them to carry these projects, learn from missteps and iterate our company each step of the way.

Sure, take advice on how to blog and use social media. A failure to educate yourself would be foolhardy. Learn from what the pro’s are doing, success leaves clues. But be willing to make mistakes, to learn from mistakes, and iterate as you go.

ALM Editor in Chief, Aric Press (@aricpress), in a piece in the American Lawyer on Monday discussed studies that identified four traits which set rainmaking lawyers apart from other lawyers.

…[R]ainmakers had higher propensities to seek dominance, become consumed by their work and effectively manage teams, and that they possessed an enhanced taste for risk-taking (compared to other lawyers).

It’s not like rainmakers were daredevils in their risk tolerance by any means.

…[T]he rainmakers were, compared to average Americans, risk-averse. They were just less risk-averse than their client service partners.

There are risks in everything we do for the first time. None of us are digital natives. The concept of networking through the Internet for business development is not easily grasped.

Like anything new we need to learn, at a least a bit, through trial and error. It’s going to feel uncomfortable to start with. Anything that takes us outside our existing comfort zone will make us feel that way. But that’s the only way we can grow.

A rainmaking lawyer may reach out to a prospective client and ask them to go to lunch. They’ll risk the rejection. A lawyer unwilling to take risk will wait until a prospective client contacts them.

Hardly a lot of risk taken by that first lawyer. That’s about all the risk tolerance necessary for you to learn how to blog and use social media for effective business development.

You just need to be vulnerable and be willing to learn from a mistake or two. Not mistakes that will cause problems with clients, your partners, or business associates. Just mistakes from which you can learn to do better. Mistakes that were preventing you from successful business development.

Follow Cashmore’s advice. Listen to others, but be willing to make a few mistakes of your own.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Celestine Chua