Thursday, January 29, 2009

Twitter's Use for Your Career, Get Linked In or Risk Getting Locked Out of (or at least Late for) the Next Wave!

Social Networks, Linked In and Twitter for your Career?

Article by Patty DeDominic,
Santa Barbara based Business Consultant & Executive Coach

There has been a great deal of discussion and many opinions about social networking sites. Do they just suck up your focus and waste your time and attention? Should you be more proactive in "live" networks?

To Blog or Not to Blog, that IS a real question in 2009!

These questions about Social Networks and blogs make me smile as the criticism that has been aimed at Social Networking sites is understandable. Used wisely I believe they are essential business tools of tomorrow.

Patty DeDominic, Executive Coach of Santa Barbara California is also smiling because I've even criticized others and certainly my husband and former executives have criticised me for being on line too much or for checking my PDA at PDQ once too often! Even President Obama is getting his critics for wanting to check his PDA or for spending time on line.... so if someone has been on your case lately you are in pretty good company! Most of us know that President Obama has been allowed to keep his "modified- super secure" Crackberry, er, excuse me, I meant Blackberry. So... on that end, get used to it, your AT&T iPhone or your Razor or your new Gizmo is here to stay! :-)

There is a caveat however.... I want to remind you that what you put "out there" on any of these sites will have a long life of it's own. Check about your own company's policy if they have one about your doing it on company time and in using your company's email or computers. A good rule of thumb is to think that everything you write could end up on the front page of tomorrows Wall Street Journal. If you could see it there....and are willing to live with the consequences of anyone having those quotes from you (or those proofreading errors) or those opinions, then go ahead.

Not Everyone Has a Car..... but most wish to have fast transportation. Think of Social Networking as the equivalent of fast transportation of your thoughts, your opinions and your brand.

No you didn't have to have a telephone in the '50's and 60's of the last millennium and you didn't have to get a fax machine until about 1990 to qualify as an "Un-dinosaur". However, if you wanted to get a job call back or needed to send in a resume to a help wanted ad, you needed those modern-at-the-time tools.

You may not wish to be referred to as a Dinosaur today... certainly not if you need to get past the 20 somethings screeners and hiring team! In the future I believe you will have to carry your PDA or Cell phone, or at least wear your "Comm Badge" unless you are fully retired or a deep sea diver!

Everyone over the age of about 12 will need to be connected to someone - somewhere. This doesn't mean the end of real time connections or personal conversations and networks. It does mean that if you want to get taken seriously as a professional you ought to learn how to use today's tools!

Yes, Unless you want to take a major pay cut...........Get Used to it; Get on line and get Linked In. (no they didn't pay me)

"Get Linked In - or Risk Getting Locked Out" of the NEW New World of Work. If you are not connected you risk getting locked out of the wave of technological competence and the methods of quick communication.

When you are that far behind....your income will suffer and you know it.

No, of course, you do not need to blog or Twitter or get Linked In.

You didn't need to learn to type in the 80's either......but aren't you glad you know how to type now? Some women told me their mothers would not allow them to take typing, for fear they would get locked into becoming someones secretary. To me that was about as foolish a person not learning a foreign language as they might get stuck in that country and never leave or as silly as me not wanting to learn to run for fear I would become a marathoner..... not very likely!

Many of my business colleagues feel tending their profiles, their networks and even a blog is just an egotistical waste of time. I do not, I know that Time, like all your other assets needs to be carefully protected and leveraged. Leverage your your brand and carefully cultivate your networks. Doing that face to face or one on one on the phone or in person is great but it is extremely time consuming and increasingly expensive. It can also be pretty limiting since not many of us can hop on over to another city or even another continent every week, or month. However, On-line, with your "e-networks"; "I-Networks" or social can really stay connected to leading authorities all over the world. Cultivating those relationships will take time..... but a wider net does always take time. You will need to learn the skills of doing it faster and more wisely - that will be key for your growth and network. Why wouldn't you want to connect with differing points of view or experts educated in Boston, London or Sydney? Of course you want that access, and you want those leading business people to learn about your too. Building that kind of network is an extreme asset and does indeed take a concerted effort but you can do it and you will find that the old cliche about "it's not what you know, but WHO you know" has some valuable truth to it. It's pretty difficult to strengthen a global network by staying home or out of the "i-gathering" places of today's humming communities of professionals.

Still thinking that Twitter is not for you? Let me remind you to recall what you thought back in the 90's when you got a new AOL disc at every event you attended and in the mail on what seemed like a regular basis. Who was this cheeky company, America On Line and why were they littering us with these little discs? AOL and other email and Internet companies were pioneering new avenues of communication, new ways of "Social Networking" way back before we called them Social Networks. And what happened? Errrrr... well, today, my 8 year old grandson has his own email address and so does my 89 year old mentor retired business executive Lou Campanelli. Who would have thunk it? I guess the Microsoft and the AOL people did, that's for sure. We do not need special glasses to see this handwriting on the wall.

Below are a couple of conversations I pulled off of one of my leadership sites:

Heather Davis and Tom Schulte Weigh In on Twitter et al..........
Q: Is Twitter of value or just a waste of time"
A: Heather Davis Principal Consultant at Waypoint Consulting said

" I've been making a conscious effort to use web 2.0 tools as part of my PhD journey and Twitter and Linked In are for me the most valuable for making and keeping business/research connections.

I also use Facebook which is a more social space for me and I am now blogging as well.
I've tried lots of different tools (I don't know how many user names and passwords I've had to set up to have a look-see at things) and it is a matter of trial and error to find tools that serve the purpose you want them too. Otherwise it is very easy to be managed by the tools!"

Tom Schulte
Executive Director Linked 2 Leadership & CEO Recalibrate Professional Development

Offers this: " I "tweet" on Twitter. I do Facebook, too.
Both can be black holes of time wasting if you are not very careful.
As a general rule, if something you do on a reoccurring basis costs more (in time or money) than it otherwise brings in, it should be considered your hobby. However, if you have a good plan on using these tools as part of your communication strategy to help earn the ear and mind space of your audience, then you can consider the use of that time on Twitter and Facebook (and LinkedIn) as an investment. The key here is to really focus on the needs of your audience and understand where you fit in their world.

"As with any business tool, keep a smart eye on how much you are spending in both time and money using each tool. Then try to calculate your return on that investment. If you can do that, then you will be answering your question. You will be able to tell if doing the social networking thing is part of your business plan or simply a hobby."

It's clear to me to Social networking sites are indeed tools of this century. Learn to use them and profit from the changes happening at lightening speed around the world. Patty De

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