Talking about the stuff you do is a great way to come up with metaphors in the moment to better describe your ideas. Such was the case in a conversation I had a couple of days ago. I was asked why I feel politicians need to be active in online spaces. In truth, I feel anyone with a specific goal to achieve or message to share needs to be on social media.

We’re still in the early days of digital finding its place into our democratic system. Yes. I still feel our current politicians and active social media folk like myself are pioneers of sorts. Part of that is measured by how excited we are everytime an MP breaks new digital ground. Which reminds me, Treasury Board President, Minister Tony Clement will become Canada’s first MP to participate in an official Google Hangout¬†tomorrow morning at 11am.

Back to the question.

I noted politicians are famous for shaking hands and kissing babies, attending pancake breakfasts and corn roasts. They look at people in the eye and engage with them — even for a short time. Critics might say they feign interest. Regardless, it’s hard to win elections without votes, it’s hard to keep your seat if you don’t have something to offer real people that will make them want to re-elect you.

Politicians control two of three key factors… their own performance and participation. The third, party leadership, can have incredible effects either way that are beyond the individual politician’s control.

So, it’s the ‘eye contact’ that can make a significant difference with voters and issue stakeholders. A sincere handshake and undivided attention during a brief conversation can convert an undecided voter and energize a committed supporter.

Politicians who can do in-person eye contact well will find their way to the top of the top of Darwinian Digital Politics because they will find a way to use any tool to make digital eye contact.

PHOTO: Zebra eye close-up uploaded to Flickr by Pim Stouten.