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Mike Figliuolo

Management

It’s OK to Be a Social Networking Clown

Sure, you have to be professional, but have a good time anyway

Published: Tuesday, December 5, 2023 - 12:03

Nothing annoys me more than being told how to do something. It’s OK to have an opinion, but to position oneself as having the authority of an expert and tell others the right and wrong way to do something is a slippery slope. Unless you’re instructing someone on brain surgery, defusing a bomb, or landing a plane, you really have nothing more than opinion.

If you’re at all like me, you’re probably sick and tired of people telling you the “right” way and “wrong” way to use blogs, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other communication tool. Heck, I’ve been guilty of telling you how not to destroy your network by using such tools.

The problem is that we forget one major thing: We’re human, and we each have individual personalities that are as unique as snowflakes. All these “experts” telling us the “right way” to use these tools squash that individuality and personality. Conformity breeds contentment, boredom, lack of innovation, and general curmudgeonliness.

I’m here to spread a different message today, It’s OK to occasionally act like a clown (and I know clowns can be scary, but there’s therapy for that). If you’re not doing so, you’re really missing out. How dare I say that? Here’s how.

Loosen up a little and shrug off the dogmatic experts who can’t think outside their self-defined high-and-mighty little box. You’ll have more fun. Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash


Think about three people you love being around (other than your family). Now, why do you like being around them? Likely because they’re interesting. They’re fun. They’re different from everybody else (including you). They make you laugh. They make you think. Sometimes they get you pretty upset. But they’re anything but boring.

Now think about being one of those people. Imagine someone new is looking to interact with you. Not at a cocktail party. Online. Hm. Does the word “vanilla” come to mind? Are you intriguing? Funny? Interesting? Or are you buttoned up and so uptight your pants squeak when you walk?

Try being a clown now and again. Make someone laugh. Show them who you really are. Try being authentic for once in your life. Sure, the majority of what you say and do should speak to your personal brand and what you’re about. Have rules for yourself in terms of boundaries for online conduct (for example, mine are no profanity, no politics, no religion, and almost no bashing unless someone really deserves it). Inside those boundaries, anything goes.

Most folks know me for writing about leadership, strategy, communications, entrepreneurship, and career. Sure. That’s my product. I write about those things in an in-your-face, irreverent, and provocative way. That’s my brand.

And occasionally (OK, frequently) I act like a clown. Because that’s who I am. I’m a big kid. I like to laugh and crack jokes. I thoroughly enjoy making odd observations about the world around me. For example, I write silly or inane blog posts from time to time, like this one about office dares. I also make “interesting” observations on X, like, “Question: All I need to do is add water to the Ped Egg shavings then shock them with a car battery to create a mini-human, right?” and, “You guys realize babies are just harbingers of the mini-human invasion where they grow up to look like us then take over the world, right?”

And sometimes I’m very excited to promote cool ideas I’m involved with because I want others to come join in the excitement of building something new. But no matter how I talk about my business, it’s fun and occasionally idiotic. And that’s OK.

Why? Because people know who they’re dealing with. That directness and authenticity helps me connect with others quickly—and it helps people who hate my style avoid me, which saves me the trouble of avoiding them because they’re probably uptight, not fun, and annoying.

The bottom line: Unclench. Have a good time. Let people meet the “real” you online. Loosen up a little and shrug off the dogmatic experts who can’t think outside their self-defined high-and-mighty little box. You’ll have more fun. Those around you will have more fun. And more business and work will get done because you find you enjoy it a lot more when you’re yourself.

Published Nov. 8, 2023, on The thoughtLEADERS Brief on LinkedIn.

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About The Author

Mike Figliuolo’s picture

Mike Figliuolo

Mike Figliuolo is the author of The Elegant Pitch (Weiser, 2016) and One Piece of Paper (Jossey-Bass, 2011), and co-author of Lead Inside the Box (Weiser, 2015). He’s also the managing director of thoughtLEADERS LLC, a leadership development training firm. He regularly writes about leadership on the thoughtLEADERS Blog.