What my sixth grade bully taught me about networking
I was a pretty quiet kid, at least in public. At home I would let loose and be my loud, outgoing, and sometimes annoying self. At school I had a close knit group of friends and I kept pretty much to myself outside of that group. Most people liked me and never gave me much grief outside of the occasional jab at my last name, which I didn’t mind. But then came the sixth grade, and I was faced with my first bully.
His name was John and he sat in front of me on the bus. He wasn’t a very big guy, but he had a very bad attitude. At some point during the year he decided to start picking on me. He would turn around and say mean things to me and make fun of me. At first I just ignored him. After all, why should I dignify his stupidity with a response? Ignoring John just made things worse as he graduated from verbal to physical annoyance. One day he decided he needed to lightly slap the side of my head a few times to get a reaction out of me. His weak slaps only hurt my pride. Unfortunately his ploy worked. As I got off the bus I walked past his seat and slapped him in the back of the head. I was safe at the time because if he chased me off the bus the driver would have stopped him. As the bus pulled away I looked up at his window and saw him staring at me full of rage.
The next day on the way to school John told me he wanted to meet at a certain location during recess. The rest of the day leading up to recess I was pretty nervous. I told my predicament to a few of my friends and my larger friend told me not to worry. I was still worried, but had a little more confidence.
The designated hour came and I met with my foe at the chosen location, my friends in tow. He didn’t have any friends with him, but that didn’t stop him. He mouthed off to me. My buddy whispered in my ear to go and push him. I was hesitant but I stepped up and pushed him pretty hard. John rushed at me, but my friend stepped in front of me just before John got to me. John looked at my formidable friend and took a step back. My friend then said “I don’t want you messing with Chad anymore.” John’s confidence was shot; I could see fear in his eyes. He backed away and I never had problems with him again.
I learned a great lesson that day about networking. When I had a problem with John I had a network of friends willing to help me. I may have been able to handle John on my own, but there was no need. My network was there to help. I learned that a strong network can save you in a pinch.
Business is no different. Your business is going to run into bullies. There will be competitors, customers or just random people that will attack you. Sometimes they will attack you for no apparent reason. Maybe they’re just jealous of your success. So what do you do with a business bully? How do you handle them? Ignoring a bully only works some of the time. Sometimes it makes things worse. What you need to do is proactively build your networks before the bullies show up.
Your business needs to be on Twitter, Facebook or wherever else you can build the strongest network. As you develop strong relationships with your customers, followers or fans, they will step up to the bully and tell them to take a hike. They will defend and build up your business because they are loyal to you.
Stepping into the social media world can be scary. You may have to face some bullies. Don’t let that fear stop you. You will make friends, and your friends are much more powerful than the weak bullies of the world.
What do you think? Have you ever faced a business bully? What happened? I’d love to hear.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010 at 2:14 pm and is filed under Social Networks. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.