Keep Calm and Disconnect

5 Benefits of a Social Media Sabbatical

Have you ever wanted to cease and desist from all social media communication? I have. And I did. Here’s what happened…

…well, actually, nothing happened. Despite dire warnings from bloggers proclaiming the “10 online activities you must do every day to build a valuable personal brand”, nothing bad actually happened. Actually, my business grew.

The benefits of a social media sabbatical

  1. Rest. Being somewhat introverted, I can only handle so much social activity online or off. By the end of December, I felt beleaguered by the pressure to maintain a constant social media presence.
  1. Focus. I noticed that I was wasting a lot of time following rabbit holes on Twitter and LinkedIn. Now, I limit my activities to research, interacting with clients, causes and people I like and having fun. I’ve also stopped following bloviators who incessantly self-promote.
  1. More “live” conversations and deeper connections. During the sabbatical, I couldn’t rely on the crutch of “liking” someone’s LinkedIn update to let them know I was thinking of them. I picked up the phone and talked to people. I learned much more from those conversations than from snippets of social media feeds. I’m better at listening than talking anyway; the nuances of conversation will always be more valuable to me than the controlled context of a Twitter chat.
  1. Improved profitability. Surprise, surprise. The extra time spent in conversations and on client work during the sabbatical certainly paid off – not just in short-term billings, but also in lucrative ideas.
  1. Conclusions, decisions and priorities. Social media has opened up a wider network of connections for me. I like blogging and attempting to provide at least a small amount of value to readers. Committing to a schedule keeps me accountable, too. It’s dangerous to be myopic about it, though.

Online activity helps build connections, but it’s just one way to do so. Traditional endeavours – non-billable client conversations, volunteer activities, presentations and networking – bring a depth to relationships that social media can only support, not replace.

If you’ve ever wanted to take a break from the onslaught of online activity, you should. Treat it as you would any other sabbatical– prepare in advance, walk away and come back with a new perspective. You won’t regret it.

A version of this post was published on the Canadian legal blog, on February 25, 2014