Listen, these technologies are just tools. Just like your fax machine (if you still have one of those) or your email.
It’s a tool for communication with other people. When email came out (does anyone remember life without email?), some people embraced it. But others, you know, struggled, they fought it, but then they finally had to give in. And, of course, there were those that got confused and accidentally spammed the entire company. That still happens. But it doesn’t happen so much anymore. And what companies do actual training on how to use email? It’s just a part of life in the office environment and you should know how to use email.
Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter can all be the same thing – even if it isn’t called by these specific brand names in a few years. Think companies won’t have an internal Facebook for communicating. Think a Linkedin type tool won’t hold all your business and personal information. What we are seeing is just the first shots at these tools. Email has come a long way in a short time. Don’t think that these tools won’t evolve as well.
Being a good communicator and understanding these new ways of communicating will lead you to be successful at your career and in your personal life. Duh.
Yes, I know, face-to-face time is important (it’s also the most expensive part of your day) but you can’t be everywhere at every time that you are needed. These tools can make it possible to be part of the conversation, though.
Here’s an analogy that I liked and I use it often. BTW, I got it off Twitter but I can’t remember the person that wrote it so if I stole it from you, please send me a note and I’ll give you credit @donschindler.
Linkedin is my business suit. Not that I wear a suit often but it’s my business voice. It’s my living resume. It’s my recommendations and it lets people know that I do know a few other people in business land. It’s where I talk with other professionals (but not in real time hopefully they will fix that).
The other cool things you can do in Linkedin is answer other professionals’ questions so they can see you are an expert in your field.
And when it comes cold-calling a business, I always check them out on linkedin to see if I have a friend or acquaintance they may know someone on the inside first. Everyone knows how much easier it is to get into a company and speak to them if you have a personal recommendation.
Facebook is my business causal. This is where I mix business and pleasure, my friends and co-workers and clients hang out and I learn about them and they learn more about me. I’m conscious of the fact that there is more than one audience (friends who accept my silliness) who may be keeping up with me.
My wife recently experienced a business issue with Facebook. She doesn’t believe in all the nonsense that I talk sometimes about Facebook which is a good thing.
She posted on Facebook that a client had returned their feedback on her writing without tracking changes and how much that annoyed her. She didn’t mention the client. But the client then commented back on her post that “He bet he knew who did that.”
She was embarrassed but not too much. They had a good laugh over it and moved on. But this kind of thing can go badly if people take it too seriously like this exchange between FedEx and their agency.
Twitter is my cocktail party. This where people are chatting all the time about things I might be interested in. This is a fun place to be and you can spur lots of conversations. I use it personally as way to track the “experts” in my field but to also keep track of clients and what they may be experiencing. I also keep searches going for my company name and my name and some crucial keywords that are important to me.
But here’s a Golden Nugget that I like to leave with clients that don’t think they have the time to get involved with these online tools like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.
There is a whole mess of kids coming into your business right now that understand these tools. And guess what, they have amassed thousands of virtual friends online and when it comes to moving their myspace and facebook crowds over to business relationships (and they will), who do you think will get the sale or the next job. You, with no audience other than a rolodex that may or may not be accurate and trackable) or the kid with a large audience willing to talk to him online?
Maybe I’m full of crap. But I use these tools every day and people are conversing with me and I’m doing business online. Why can’t you?
BTW, you should not start using these tools unless you have a plan in place of how much time you should be spending with each one. They can all suck the resources right out of you and your business.
So what do you think?