Cal Newport: You can succeed without social media

Social media is a wonderful tool for real estate agents today.

However, when it starts to dominate our lives, it becomes less of a tool and more of a distraction. It is important to keep social media in its proper perspective as a tool that can enhance the efforts we already are pursuing.

Dr. Cal Newport offered a TEDx talk about social media. He describes himself as a millennial computer scientist and author speaking on a TED stage who has never had a social media account.

Newport is an associate professor in the department of computer science at Georgetown University and the author of five how-to books and a blog focused on academic and career success. While he has never had a social media account, he assures listeners that he is OK.

“Not only am I OK without social media, I am actually better off,” he said. “I am happier and I find more sustainability in my life. I have been more successful professionally because I don’t use social media.”

Newport claims that professionals might find the same level of success if they quit social media.

A key objection is that social media is a fundamental technology of the 21st Century. To reject it would be akin to using a rotary phone or watching black-and-white television.

“Really, it is an entertainment project,” he said.

Not using social media really is just rejecting one form of entertainment over other forms of entertainment.

“It is not a major political or social stance to say you don’t use those products,” he said.

Newport points out that eschewing social media may be in opposition to the current belief that social media holds a primary role in the professional world today. After all, many real estate agents use it as a tool to develop a so-called social media brand, providing you access to opportunities you might otherwise miss and supports the diverse contact network you need to get ahead.

However, Newport points out that opportunities and connections that could turn into prospects are not as scarce as social media supporters would like us to believe.

Social media also can weaken the ability to concentrate without distraction on challenging tasks. It is engineered to be addictive. As a result, the more often you use social media in the way it’s designed to be used — frequently throughout your day — the more you are conditioned to desire a quick hit of the social media pipe at the slightest hint of boredom.

Even if we decide to have a social media free block of time each day, it can set us on a path to freedom.

As a real estate agent, if you are serious about making an impact in your market, power down your smartphone, close your browser tabs and use some old-fashioned hustle to get a leg up on the competition. Cal Newport will approve.

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