Why I Created SucceedSocially.com
I started this site back in 2006, when I was in my mid-twenties. I wanted to give other shy, awkward people the kind of guide I wished I had when I was trying to improve my own social skills. I had to figure everything out the hard way, but hopefully I can make things easier for anyone else who's in the same situation I was.
There are more resources available these days, but back when I was struggling with my own social life I couldn't find a lot of the information I felt I needed. Whether through a Google search or in various books, the advice on social skills I came across usually seemed too basic or not relevant to what I was looking for. Most of it fit into these categories:
Advice about teaching basic social skills to children
Sure I was dorky, but I was also a young adult and I did know things like how to share or take turns.
Advice about teaching social skills to people, often kids again, with specific difficulties like ADHD, learning disabilities, or autism
This stuff was also too simple for what I was looking for. The advice was also understandably geared towards dealing with the specific issues these conditions caused (e.g., not being impulsive for ADHD, not having odd body language for Asperger's Syndrome). Again, I was awkward and socially inexperienced, but otherwise I was a pretty typical individual. I didn't have any of these problems myself.
Advice on things like smiling, body language, listening, and being interested in people
I could have stood to brush up in these areas, but what frustrated me wasn't that these points were unhelpful, but that they came up over and over again. A lot of the sources I read also seemed to present these tips as encompassing the entirety of interpersonal skills. I felt there was more to socializing than just those concepts.
I felt like half the articles I read were along the lines of, "The key social skills are... smiling, having good body language, listening, and being interested in people", or "The keys to making friends are... smiling, having good body language, listening, and being interested in people" or "The keys to being likable and charismatic are... smiling, having good body language, listening, and being interested in people" or "The keys to having a good conversation are..."
Advice on assertiveness, arguing properly, and persuasion
A lot of social skills books and articles covered this. There's nothing wrong with it, but I was looking for suggestions on more day-to-day challanges like how to organize plans with potential new friends.
Advice geared towards succeeding in the business world
For example, networking, confronting your boss, and resolving conflicts with co-workers. Not what I was looking for.
There was also a lot of advice that I tried, but which I didn't find effective:
So I had to figure a lot of things out for myself. When I discovered how to do something I naturally remembered it. I felt many of the solutions I'd hit on could be useful to other people, and in my spare moments I'd sometimes organize and rehearse the information in my mind as if I was explaining it to someone else. I occasionally shared some of my ideas in assorted online forums. They went over well with the handful of members who read them.
Right after I felt I had gotten over the worst of my problems, at around age 24, I kept daydreaming about writing a book on everything I had learned. I imagined it as a guide on how shy, socially awkward young people could get over their issues, like I had gotten past mine. I eventually stopped toying with that idea though, as it seemed like too much work to write a book, let alone pursue the seemingly unlikely chance of it getting published (this was a few years before before easy self-publishing services came along). And while I knew I had a few ideas that could help other people, I honestly didn't know if they were that good, or if I had enough of them to fill 200+ pages.
Meanwhile, I got into a serious relationship and started my first "real" post-university job. I thought it was all well and good that I had gotten over my shyness and social cluelessness, but now I had to move on and concern myself with other areas of my life. Over a year passed and the whole 'I could write my ideas down' concept faded from my mind.
Then one day I was messing around on the internet and I accidentally came across an article about how to create a web site. I guess my little dream wasn't too dormant after all, because it didn't take me long to think, "Oh! That's what I can do. I can make a simple site and throw all my advice up there." I spent the next month learning basic things like how to register a domain name, and how HTML and CSS works. The site's first ten articles were a breeze to create, as they were basically already written in my head.
I put the site up and have continued to add to it and tweak the content since then.