A prefect's musings on digital and social media

Tag Archives: business networking online

This week, guest blogging for us, is Will Glover, who has returned to the Twelve team for a few weeks as an intern. Here he considers LinkedIn’s announcement that the social network will be lowering the sign up age to 13 and what impact this might have on the platform.  You can also read Will’s previous entry ‘I am the challenge Marketers face’ if you have time to kill! 

As many of you probably know, LinkedIn, the global professional networking site, has recently opened its doors to teenagers aged 13 and upwards, sparking a great deal of online commentating. Some praise the scheme, most condemn it and the rest, myself included, simply wonder: ‘why?’

At first, their justification for lowering the minimum age required to join the site: encouraging soon-to-be university students to network, seems sensible. Although, having said this, those at a university age are 18 anyway. What I can’t understand is a) how LinkedIn made the leap from undergraduates to 13 year olds and b) why they think said 13 year olds care the slightest bit about networking.

…As Alec Baldwin’s Jack in 30 Rock puts it. Does LinkedIn have the cool factor for 13 year olds?

Unfortunately, the scheme looks to be just another digital gimmick. LinkedIn are not the first to be guilty of this and certainly won’t be the last, but certainly are part of a frustrating trend in the information age to be slightly obsessive about finding new ways of ‘connecting’ and ’sharing’. At the risk of sounding out-of-touch, I wonder how many people get genuinely excited at the latest minor ‘innovation’ in social media.

Don’t get me wrong, sharing information has its place, and Facebook and countless other sites certainly have revolutionised the way we interact with each other. Perhaps we just need to slow down a bit and ask ourselves if the latest bright idea actually has a purpose, or if it is simply another example of social media sites doing something just because it can be.

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With the new year often comes new years resolutions – and if yours was to improved your understanding of social media and you are starting to flounder already, I thought it might be useful to highlight a few books that can give you a helping hand!

Understanding Digital Marketing – Damian Ryan and Calvin Jones

A useful resource for outlining potential digital marketing strategies – this provides a more general overview of various different digital marketing platforms such as search engine optimization, e-mail marketing, social media etc, which is a very useful starting point.

My favourite thing about this book is that it provides you with a ‘chapter pledge’ at the beginning of each chapter, which is really useful if you want to pick up the book at various points for advice, rather than read it all the way through, it helps you identify what the chapter will teach you and whether that is relevant to what you are looking for.

 

Once you have drilled down on the particular areas you want to focus on, it might be worth getting a book dedicated to that area for some more in-depth information.

This is Social Media: Tweet, Blog, Link and Post your Way to Business Success – Guy Clapperton

This book is a really good starting point because it provides a brilliant overview of a wide range of social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ecademy, Flickr, YouTube, Bebo, MySpace, Blogs, Podcasts, Mobile and more)!

The steps are easy to follow and there is also a really useful ‘jargon buster’ feature, which can help you to understand some of the technical (or not so technical) terms that are regularly bandied around.

Definitely a good start point if it is social media in particular that you are looking to crack!

Twitter Power – Joel Comm

The Twitter bible for businesses wanting to try out the microblogging phenomenon!  This is honestly the most useful social media book that I have read (and believe me I have read a fair few)!  It provides real examples and genuinely useful hints and tips.  The book is split it into bite-size chunks that take you through the process step by step – from setting up your Twitter feed and establishing a following right through to the legal considerations.

It also has a useful ’30 day plan for domination Twitter’.  Seriously, if you want to join and understand Twitter, this is the book for you.

Others

Other books that you might find are worth checking out, but weren’t quite the ones for me:

The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott – whilst it had some useful hints in it, I found this one a bit of a hard slog.  However, does provide some good blogging tips in Chapter 5.

Social Media 101 – Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online by Chris Brogan – a really interesting read for those particularly interested in social media, but the ‘101’ format means it is probably not the best starting point for beginners!

Public Relations and the Social Web – How to use Social Media and Web 2.0 in Communications by Rob Brown – another really useful overview!

So hopefully in the above you will find something that will keep you on the straight and narrow with your digital media strategy this year…

 


We all know that Twitter is the social networking tool to use to connect people. How could we not? We are told so all of the time. But few of us actually believe it, or better still act on it.

Yesterday, however, I found myself re-enthused by Twitter’s ability to connect people. Why, I hear you ask? Because I received a tweet from Radio 1’s Tim Westwood. Not strictly a business connection, but bear with me, there is a moral to this tale. My tweet from Westwood was a response to my own tweet commenting on his humorous contribution to the Chris Moyles show. My tweet did not request a response, and nor did I expect one, but simply be mentioning his name as an @ reply I found that he did the same by return. And it was very exciting.

Now I am sure that many of you would argue that a tweet from Westwood would not help your marketing or business strategy. And I am sure you are right, but it does demonstrate how Twitter can connect you with people that you previously found unobtainable.

Last month I also received a response to a Tweet directed at Sam Baker, editor of my current favourite magazine Red (I am slightly fickle when it comes to my magazine reading habits..). Again, it was only jovial banter, but Sam has previously referred in her editor’s letter to Tweets she has received on a particular topic that has later informed the direction of particular elements of the next month’s magazine.

Twitter makes people that were previously unobtainable to the masses, such as celebrities, sports stars, MPs, journalists, suddenly accessible. It provides the mechanism to make personal contact with others, whom you might not otherwise be able to contact.

Admittedly, neither of these examples has allowed me to build up a relationship with Westwood, or Sam nor have they provided me with any business gain. But they do show the possibility that Twitter allows.

I am sure you have all read hundreds of examples of how businesses have connected with partners, potential clients, consumers and trade associations online. But now is the time to stop reading about it, and start doing it for your own company.

The opportunity it there, it is up to you to engage and use Twitter to your best advantage….take the opportunity to connect with the figures within your industry that have previously seemed unobtainable.


 

Whatever happened to ‘let’s hear it for the girls’?!  Recent research by London Business School has highlighted women’s lack of natural flair for networking .  Perhaps more crushing, for those that consider themselves to be digital savvy – it seems that they are also missing out on the wealth of opportunities for social networking.

It seems it is not the social side that is causing the problem – many women have a large group of friends that they can regular call on at all hours of the day when they are in a bind, but we are the weaker sex at maximising the networking side of our social network – for business purposes.

With this in mind, listed below are five handy hints for us ladies, on what we should be doing to maximise our social networking prowess – it’s not rocket science, but it does take a bit of confidence:

  • Sometimes it is the blurring of lines between the social and the business that makes us weary of taking a big step towards online networking…so perhaps decide which networks you want to use for business purposes and which you want to reserve for your social contacts – for example you might focus on Twitter and LinkedIn for business and reserve Facebook for catching up with friends.

 

  • Make full use of Twitter and LinkedIn to catch up with old work mates – if you are not still in regular contact now, it can be the easiest way to find out what they are doing.  Their career might have taken a new turn or they could be working within a company that is particularly relevant to yours, use the opportunity to re-instate a mutual business connection.

 

  • Engage with people – if used properly, social networking should not just be about linking up with people you already know, it should be about extending your networks.  On Twitter, seek out the experts within your sector and try and engage with them – respond to their queries with your point of view.  It may take a while to establish a connection, but demonstrating your professional credentials and providing interesting insight can help this along…

 

  • Be proactive – create your own group on LinkedIn.  That is not to say you should do it for the sake of doing it, but have a browse around the groups and see if there are any gaps that might enable to you to communicate with like-minded individuals.  If you don’t quite have the confidence to create your own group, you should be actively contributing to the groups that are particularly relevant to your business.  Sharing advice and seeking advice from others is the best way to build up business relationships.

 

  • Once you have started to make some contacts online, have the confidence to ask them to meet in person for a coffee.  This gives you the opportunity to put a face to the name and turn your virtual relationship into a real life connection…

Online business networking can take the difficult part out of face to face networking – when you finally meet up you already know a bit about your contact and so conversation and information sharing should flow more easily.  Its networking, the easy way!  And apparently us ladies need some assistance with that….

(This post will also be made available in the ‘Guides’ section).



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