One of the best parts of blogging and maintaining an online presence is the opportunity to meet, connect and engage with smart, interesting, good people whose paths might never have crossed mine otherwise. That’s exactly how I met Canadian mediator Jason Dykstra, who lives, blogs and mediates in Cambridge, Ontario.
He tweets, too – as in, uses Twitter. And he’s a master at it, which is how I came to meet him, get to know him, and be so very impressed by him that I invited him to be profiled in Success Leaves Clues, my occasional series of interviews with interesting, successful ADR professionals who stand out from the crowd.
Jason stands out from the Twitter crowd because he does more than post just his own thoughts and his own links. He does more than rote and dutiful retweets of others’ material. Jason really connects – he uses Twitter to build relationship and he does it so well, I wanted to hear how he approaches social media and what advice he’d offer about using Twitter to market and build business.
Tell me a little about yourself and your ADR work, Jason.
First and foremost I am a husband and most recently a father. I have a degree in English and Psychology and have worked the majority of my career in the social service sector. I have recently started up my own mediation company called Absolution Mediation. There we focus on conflict that stems from relationship issues, for example, family, workplace relationships, and church congregations.
We met via Twitter and I want to focus this interview on the presence you’ve developed there. First, though, why Twitter?
I love Twitter because it gives me the opportunity to build relationships and rapport with people, enables me to build trust, as well as educate the greater public about what mediation is.
Are there other social media platforms you use regularly for professional purposes?
I regularly use Facebook and blogging. I find they are both great formats for engaging with people and building trust and credibility.
What are the advantages for you in using Twitter?
The main advantages I find with twitter are engaging and educating. By engaging with people I am building rapport and relations with them. I am starting a conversation and learning more and more about people daily. It takes a bit longer since you only have 140 characters per tweet, but that also encourages you to choose your words wisely.
I also learn a lot from my friends on Twitter. I read many articles, posts, and quotes from my friends and have had the opportunity to learn from those. I also tweet articles and posts that I think others can learn from as well. This enables the greater community to learn more about dispute resolution and the use for it. Twitter has also opened my eyes to things that are happening in my own community; tweet-ups, speakers/presenters, and good restaurants!
How did you get started on Twitter and how have you built the solid relationships you have there?
I was introduced to twitter from my dad actually! He told me about it and I started following some friends, celebrities, and mediators. At first, to be honest, I despised Twitter. I didn’t care what people were eating or what they dreamt about last night, but then I started my business and didn’t have a lot of money. So I decided to do the majority of my marketing over social networks because it was free and I had a bit of time. We are experts in helping people communicate, so I figured, why not showcase that online.
I have built solid relationships on Twitter the same way you build relationships in real life. I cared about the people that I was conversing with and took a genuine interest in what they were saying. I asked them questions and took the time to respond to any questions they had. I joined twitter parties and started connecting with anyone that was willing to have a conversation! I also took those conversations off-line and went to tweet-ups (a group of people from twitter getting together) and various community events where I got the opportunity to meet lots of these great folks.
What concrete advice would you offer fellow dispute resolution professionals about using Twitter effectively?
1. Patience. You are not going to grow a following overnight. You need to be willing to put in the time to seek out people that interest you and get to know them. The more you use it the more you will get out of it.
2. Engage. Embrace your geeky self and jump into the community. The community is incredibly friendly. There are a ton of people out there that know more then you and me. Retweet good content and produce awesome content.
3. Be yourself. This might be the most important one. Know who you are offline and be that person online. People aren’t attracted to fake, so be real, otherwise people will see through that.
What would you tell mediators who are skeptical that anyone can make real connections and build legitimate business relationships online?
I don’t think there is anything that I can say that will convince you. So go see for yourself! Go online, create yourself an account and start chatting to people. Follow people that you think will be relevant your business and interests. Or you can read the book UnMarketing by Scott Stratten (@unmarketing on Twitter, blog) because he will be able to convince you more then I ever could. I learned an incredible amount from this book and I know that you will too. Whether you are already plugged in or a newbie, you will read this book over and over because it is packed full of great stories and learning opportunities.
I have built many meaningful relationships online and I know many others that have as well. Go online and check it out!
What are your professional plans for the future?
I plan on continuing to grow my business and continuing to help people through their situations of conflict. I am starting to develop workshops about what it means to communicate with each other and hope to write a book one day! Lastly, I am hoping to improve my coaching skills and hopefully in the near future, I will be taking one of Cinnie Noble’s (@Cinergycoaching) courses to help me achieve that goal.
Where can folks find you on the web and on Twitter?