Social media (and life!) lessons from Dale Carnegie

Social Media Lessons From Dale Carnegie

Everything I learned about how to treat people, I learned from my mom and dad. Everything I learned about how to treat people in the business world, I learned from Dale Carnegie.

Twenty-plus years ago, I spent almost $2,000 on Dale Carnegie training. I did this at a time when I was self-employed and wanted to improve my public speaking skills. (Side note: I’ve now had two stints at owning my own business.) I don’t remember the exact names of the two courses I took, but I believe one was based on the core principles of Carnegie’s classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. The other training was for public speaking.

social media lessons from dale carnegie

While Carnegie never tweeted, pinned or posted back in the day, I think he’d agree that the best way to use social media marketing is complementary to his core values and teachings.

The classes were great, they helped me gain confidence, and I felt satisfaction in knowing I’d invested in myself at at time when I had almost zero money coming in from my new business. Memories of the classes and my fellow classmates have since faded, but I still find myself quoting Carnegie-isms from my studies.

As I researched Carnegie’s quotes for this post, I found I didn’t have them all perfectly memorized — but the spirit was intact. And while Carnegie never tweeted, pinned or posted back in the day, I think he’d agree that the best way to use social media marketing is complementary to his core values and teachings.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

What if you spent the next two months never posting anything on your Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter accounts that mentioned your business? It would feel like a huge missed opportunity, right? But what if you spent the next two months focusing more on talking less about yourself

Many social media pros (myself included) suggest spending just 20% of your time talking about yourself online. While the 80/20 principal wasn’t on Carnegie’s to-do list, he surely would have agreed with the focus being on others.

WWCD (what would Carnegie do) action step: Scroll through your Twitter and Facebook feed for the last month and see how often you’re promoting other people’s content, retweeting, favoriting, liking, sharing and/or sending personal acknowledgments about what you read? If your month-long look-back shows it’s been all about you, you’ve got some Carnegie-inspired work to do going forward!

“The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want.”

What do your social media followers want from your business’ tweets, posts and pins? Chances are they don’t want to see a hard sell or learn about your latest product offering. They’re on Facebook or Twitter to kill time, catch up with friends or be encouraged, entertained or educated.

WWCD action step: Be known for your ability to help and encourage others by sharing helpful information on your business social accounts. Brighten someone’s day with a motivational quote (yes, they’re still appropriate to share online), or shares news that informs or offers people timely resources and solutions connected to your business. Do everything you can to ensure you’re offering value to your followers, so you can add another “e” word to mix; in addition to encourage, entertain and educate, add engagement.

“Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

This is one of my favorites Carnegie sayings, even though I never quite quote it accurately. But I think of it often when I take the extra time to learn how to spell or pronounce a person’s name or when I tag a person or company online correctly to make sure they see my tweet or post.

WWCD action step: Social media makes this easy because we can tag or “@mention” someone on almost every social media platform. When’s the last time you acknowledged your most active followers on your Facebook page who regularly like your posts or leave comments? Give them an @mention or like their comment to let them know you appreciate their support and engagement.

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn — and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

Do you ever get a nasty comment on one of your social accounts or a snarky blog post comment? It’s probably happened at least once, and hopefully you’re taking the high road and not being snarky back.

WWCD action step: Instead of deleting the comment or blocking the person from doing it again, channel Dale Carnegie and reply with a comment that diffuses the situation and acknowledges the person’s opinion. Or, sometimes the best course of action is to ignore the comment.

“To be interesting, be interested.”

“Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.”

“The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage.”

There’s a similar Carnegie quote to these three that I apparently mangle, because I can’t find it attributed to him online. I always called it, “Show a genuine interest in people.” (Did I make this up?) When we use our social media accounts or blog to regularly give others the stage, we’re turning the spotlight away from ourselves … and that’s refreshing, don’t you think?

WWCD action step: If you’re blogging for business, one way you can shine a spotlight on others is to do an interview-style post. I’ve done dozens of these types of posts in the past and always enjoy featuring other people who are doing great things in their businesses or in marketing. (I did this a lot on one of my old/now defunct blogs linked here.) Another way we can do this on our blog is to welcome people to write guest posts.

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

“Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.”

“If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.”

These three Carnegie quotes are meant to encourage anyone who’s been frustrated in life, in work, in marketing! Just relax, take a deep breath, put others first and live your life the Dale Carnegie-inspired way.

Photo: Cody Board via Unsplash