If this is ringing true in your ears, then you have probably uttered one or more of the following excuses to your boss, coworkers, friends or family members. I suggest that it is time you reconsider your thinking about social media. Let’s see how your excuses stack up to those featured here:

1. My Industry Is Not Using Social Media
It doesn’t matter whether you are in healthcare, insurance, finance, legal, research or any other profession, your peers and competitors are using social media to their advantage. Want to connect to professionals in your industry across the country or around the world to expand your business? Striving to establish your name and enhance your reputation? Seeking the latest breakthroughs from thought leaders? All of these and more are being leveraged daily by others in your field.

2. I Don’t Want to Know What People Had for Breakfast

I always smile when I hear someone use this one with me, usually when bringing up Twitter. As with most new ideas, people did share what they were having for breakfast. That was years ago. By making such a statement, everyone else interprets your comment to mean, “I have no idea what I am talking about.” Today, you will find late-breaking news, thought-provoking ideas and introductions to others who might provide help to you personally and/or professionally.

3. My Job Is Secure; LinkedIn Is Just for the Unemployed

Really? Why not talk to the 30,000 Bank of America employees. Or, ask a Hewlett-Packard employee in the PC or Mobile divisions. It is a commonly accepted fact of social media that the time to build, to polish your social media presence is before you need a new job. From my own experience, the volume of referral requests for employees of HP shot through the roof the afternoon of the announcement of layoffs. Those with strong presence and profiles are already in discussions with interested employers. You still think you should wait to build your presence?

4. I Don’t Have Enough Time

Of course not. None of us do. If you simply keep doing everything that you do now, it is a challenge. How much time do you spend in your e-mail account? Voicemail? Learn how to replace a portion of your activity in those outdated communication platforms with the immediacy of social media, and you will find that time you need. You might just find that those you communicate with will respond more quickly to you when using your newly found social media skills.

5. I Don’t Have Anything to Say

Social media is not just for talking. Many experts agree that the most efficient use of social tools like Twitter is to listen and learn from others. You can learn the very latest thinking on topics important to you. You will discover how easy it is to make personal connections that have the potential to improve your work efforts and even your personal life. Listen for a while, and you will soon find yourself having a thought or idea that will enhance the conversation or bring a contrarian view to the discussion, and you will want to share it with the world. You will discover that you have quite a bit to say and that others will value your input.

6. No One Can Tell Me the ROI

Return on investment, the magic words from many of you. What is the ROI of your phone? What is the ROI of your professional development? Not everything in life can easily be broken down this way. When I get this statement, I like to ask the responder to explain what ROI means. Typically, this is a short discussion. Come on, what is the ROI of your spouse?

7. My Customers Are Not Using Social Media

Wow, are you wrong. There are over 200 million users of LinkedIn alone, almost half of them in the United States. Rest assured that your customers are looking at your profiles, your Twitter presence and more before you ever walk in the door. I have customers that pre-qualify every vendor rep before they ever meet with them. Do you want to be the one who is eliminated from the opportunity before you even know there is one? Get this one down: Y[ur customers are using social media all day long.

8. I Don’t Know How to Use Social Media

Fair enough. Learn it. There are literally thousands of free or inexpensive seminars, webinars and online videos available for every platform. Just drop by your local Barnes & Noble or search Amazon.com for social media, and you will not be able review all the available books in one sitting. Everyone has to learn this stuff. Ask around the office. How did they learn how to use it effectively, and who taught them. Just check the credentials/experience of presenters and authors, as there are many who took a class last week and are teaching this week.

9. There Is Too Much Change to Keep Up With

I admit, I utter this one to myself once a month. There is a lot of change and plenty of innovation. We are still in the early stages of social media. The creators of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter had no idea what people would be using their tools for when they started. There is something to be said for being on the edge a bit, to be exploring new tools and new strategies. It must have been like this when television was just getting started. No one could have imagined how it would change the very fabric of our society. I believe that we are in the same mode now with social media.

10. There Are Too Many Choices to Work With

Correct. Don’t use them all. Check with others in your industry to find out where they are participating. The answer will be different based on your age, sex, profession, geographical location and your objectives online. Unless you are in the business of social media, I recommend settling in with two or three to yield the best results. Keep your eyes and ears open, though, and when a new one comes along that might be a better fit, switch it out for one that is yielding the lowest value currently.

11. I am Concerned about My Privacy

Good. You should be. This is where education comes into play. Learn how to secure your account. Practice safe online activity. Change your passwords regularly, and follow the recommendations of the experts. If you use your birthday for your password, expect to be taken advantage of. Of course, the same thing will happen if you use the same lazy approach with your PIN number for your credit card or bank accounts. Just do it right, and you should be fine. Follow some of the experts on each of the social platforms, and you will know the instant that there is a change that might impact your security.

12. It Is a Passing Fad

So were the telegraph and the newspaper. Social media has become the most pervasive wave of change across the planet since the television. We have witnessed entire countries being torn down and rebuilt over the last year with help from social media. It is so powerful that some leaders shut down access to their citizens, usually with undesired consequences. More that one billion people are actively using some form of social media to get things done every day worldwide. Passing fad? I think not. It represents a fundamental change in how our society communicates, learns and conducts business.

Isn’t it time you drop the excuses? You run the risk of becoming irrelevant in your professional life. You are missing some rich connections with friends and coworkers that you have lost contact with long ago. You will be exposed to a monumental shift in learning and education. Do you really want to be left behind? The days of ignoring social media should be behind you.

Pick one, and get started. I personally recommend LinkedIn for anyone in business. Facebook is great for family and friends, and Twitter is my platform of choice for keeping up-to-date on the news of the day in general as well as my profession. I hope to see you on online soon, and let me know what excuse(s) you gave up to get engaged.

Miles Austin is “The Web Tools Guy” and the author of Fill the Funnel blog (www.fillthefunnel.com). A sales and marketing technologist with an extensive leadership background, he is recognized as one of the leading authorities on web tools for sales and marketing professionals.