Social Presence seems like an elusive concept. We can definitely recognize it when others have it, but it’s tough to replicate.
These are practical steps you can take to build your social presence immediately.
1. Say things that are slightly risky
Key word being slightly. You want to push the envelope a little bit without offending people and destroying your reputation.
If you are in a very sensitive situation, like some work settings, then tread carefully.
Start with small remarks or comments that differ from your norm. Gauge responses from your colleagues and superiors. And based on their reactions (or lack thereof), adjust the intensity and boldness up or down.
A person with social presence is someone who is comfortable in their own skin. They are relaxed and confident. They are willing to say and do things that others are not.
That’s the “risky” part.
But they are also socially intelligent. They know which rules to follow, which to break, and which to just bend, and when.
That’s the “slight” part.
It’s tough to know exactly when and how to take those risks without trying things out.
There is a lot of intuition involved in great social presence. And you can’t build an intuition without experiencing live social situations with real people.
The only real way to build confidence and comfort in social situations is to take chances and have real experiences.
It may feel intimidating, but that’s the point. You won’t become a more charismatic and influential person by doing more of what you’re already doing. You have to do something different.
2. Spin everything to the positive
A friend of mine uses his facebook page as a repository of positive, uplifting and inspirational messages and memes.
Understandably, he gets tons of likes and supportive comments, and the occasional “thank you” from a grateful friend who “needed to hear this.”
That’s just social media. Imagine how much more powerful being positive is in real life.
People are magnetically drawn to positive, fun, lighthearted and optimistic individuals. And we are naturally repelled by complainers, whiners, naysayers and curmudgeons.
You can focus on the positive or focus on the negative. The choice is yours. But you will never find a highly influential and charismatic person complain to others, put them down, and kill their dreams.
Positivity is one of the simplest things you can do to increase your social presence massively. People will want to hang out with you more. They will ask you for advice more often. You will have more conversations with more people, and the conversations will last longer and have a different flavor.
If you are already a positive thinker, then start expressing that. Take time out of your day to give a genuine compliment, or to praise someone for the work they have done.
And when annoying or inconvenient things happen, don’t dwell on them. Don’t complain, don’t rant, and don’t pout. If you do, your social presence will take a nosedive.
If someone has a dumb idea, don’t criticize it or try to debate them. Acknowledge their attempt, praise them for trying, and offer a positive alternative or reframe that everyone can buy into.
3. Start journaling your observations of social dynamics
I’ve been journaling for years on social situations, work, business and more.
Get your ideas and observations out of your head and on paper. It’s important for your development.
Writing it down makes it more real and less of an ambiguous feeling. You don’t have to worry about remembering details from your friend’s birthday party 3 months ago, or that great meeting you had with some senior managers and why it was so great. You can just flip back through your notes and identify patterns.
Write down the details on your own conversation skills, other people’s reactions, what you could have said in response to challenging questions, how others responded to interruptions or unexpected developments, where you could have been more positive, or more socially calibrated.
You will notice trends and patterns. You will pick up on subtle details just by thinking back on how things went.
And you will become more attentive and observant in the moment, because your brain knows it will be taking notes later. Over time this extra awareness will enhance your intuition and social presence.
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