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Encouragement for Twitter NOOBz and Anyone Taking on a New Challenge

I had an anonymous reader recently criticize me for using the phrase “…NOOB (shorthand in Twitter for newbie)…” in a recent post about getting started on Twitter. He/she said:

“I have to say that your definition of the term “NOOB” actually makes you look like a n00b yourself because it is not, in fact, the Twitter shorthand for newbie – it is the internet shorthand for newbie. It’s a term that’s been around for just shy of a couple decades – much longer than Twitter.”

I stand corrected, and I adjusted the phrasing to now read: “…NOOB (shorthand in Twitter [or other Internet activities such as online gaming] for newbie, as in new user)…”

I appreciate being corrected! =) (Okay, then arises the question of how to spell it: Google it and you’ll find half a dozen options. Although it’s often n00b [those are zeros in the middle], I’m sticking with all CAPS and letters rather than the techie combination of letters and numbers–my editorial urges are much stronger than my engineering instincts!)

It also got me to thinking . . . Aren’t we all NOOBz at some time or another? What if we adopted a perpetual state of NOOB-ness about life–an insatiable curiosity about people and our professions. And, why are we hesitant to classify ourselves as NOOBz?

Here’s one of the main thoughts that the anonymous email seeded in me:

I’d like to stand in defense of the millions of timid, uncertain, and curious out there who are considering dabbling with Twitter (or anything new, for that matter), but are afraid to do so because:

  • They don’t want to look foolish, set themselves up for criticism, or admit they don’t know it all
  • They don’t have enough confidence about being able to master the  learning curve
  • They don’t have (or don’t want to spend) the time to learn something new
  • They can’t see the long-term value or return-on-investment for their time

So what does it take to step out and do something new? Here are a few insights:

  • Humility: Admit your NOOB-ness: I readily admit I don’t know everything there is to know about Twitter (even though I coauthored a book on the topic!)
  • Partnership: Team up with someone–you’re tons more likely to accomplish a task when there’s accountability involved. And, ask for help–that’s what we did on the Twitter book…check out our awesome 100+ contributors! By the way, Twitter is a great place to ask for help!
  • Vision: Get clear on what you want from your new endeavor. If there is no payoff, you’ll be hard-pressed to persuade yourself to make the push!
  • Permission: Give yourself permission to fail or not learn everything overnight: I often tell myself, “FAIL means From All I Learn” (that’s not original; I wish I knew who to give attribution to!) and “I’m learning more about ________ [fill in the blank] every single day.”
  • Commitment: Let’s get real: unless you’re retired, on extended vacation, or perhaps procrastinating on some other project, few people have the time to learn something new. You must decide you’re going to do it, devise a plan, commit to it, and get some momentum going!

So, whether it’s Twitter, some other technology, or perhaps a new career skill that’s important to your future, I stand with you! And I’m celebrating your NOOB-ness, because it means you’re taking risks, stretching, learning, growing, and adding value to your life, as well as those around you.

And, may I challenge you to be on the lookout for someone who may be feeling timid, uncertain, or curious . . . and lend them a hand!

I welcome your thoughts! Why do people hesitate to learn something new? How can we support them? Do you recognize yourself (or your coworkers or clients) in this post?


2 Responses to “Encouragement for Twitter NOOBz and Anyone Taking on a New Challenge”

  1. Jane says:

    Amen, Susan!

    I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for folks who might be using Twitter to great advantage, and don’t realize it. (I’m sort of the Twitter evangelist in my group at the Five O’Clock Club!) After jumping into Twitter in January and blogging in March, I just became a NOOB on Facebook about two weeks ago … how cool is that?

    I do think fear of being ridiculed stops folks from jumping into something new, as well as misunderstanding the “effort-to-reward ratio”… you can get a lot out of things (like Twitter) than most people think you can without devoting a huge amount of time. I still find people who are amazed to learn they don’t actually have to tweet something themselves to use Twitter!

    By the way, the focus of my entire blog is my “a lot MORE out of things”!

  2. Roxan Park says:

    This was an inspiring piece. I have been struggling to motivate myself to get on board with the social networking aspect of my professional development. Even though I have been diving in recently, this has encouraged me to not be fearful of making mistakes.

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