Friday, August 7, 2009

Why I fell out of love with social media, but we're still good friends...

"Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing." Goethe

You know that guy that when he first discovers a new band he likes, he goes nuts and has to play their music for everyone? The minute you walk into his house, he sits you down for a short speech followed by a reverent listening of a new favorite group. Fill in the blank with anything people are passionate, motorcycles, shoes(for the ladies!).

Well, time to fess up. I was that guy with social media. Thanks to a dynamic, passionate presentation by Geoff Livingston over a year ago, I was instantly hooked. I couldn't wait to sign up for every site that was out there. I couldn't wait to tell co-workers, friends, family and the guy at the bus stop about how Twitter and Facebook were going to absolutely change their life, absolutely. As laid out in Geoff's book Now is Gone, the world of communication had changed forever - especially in the areas of public relations and corporate communications. Geoff was right, and I'm really glad I was able to be exposed to the shift in thought, but...

The mistake I made was in becoming that guy, the over-excited guy. That excitement led to some great opportunities for speaking, meeting great new people, and a complete 180 in how I view the job of public relations. Plenty of good came of it.

So, where am I know? Per the title of this post, I am still "good friends" with social media. For a time, I'd considered jettisoning my various social media outlets. Following evaluation, I realized this was a bit strong, and instead chose to re-evaluate my usage and goals for each tool. As a metaphor, I needed to make sure I wasn't using my house key to try to start my car.

I see social media as an incredibly valuable tool for organizations, if used correctly. The tools are not the answer, in and of themselves. Companies used to desperately need a web site, but they weren't sure why. Today, companies want a social media presence, but they aren't sure why. It's up to the experts and the willing individuals with an organization's leadership to take the next step.

There's no denying, the use of these tools can be great fun. It's fun in the same way that any great social gathering can be. So, dig in, have fun. But be careful not to become that guy. Social media is a new, great thing, but it will soon find it's place among the other tools of the trade.

What's your take?

Photo Gracias: That's me fist-bumping my computer. Har-har.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

5 Reasons to Ditch Your Professional Organization

I've spent the week thinking about professional organizations. If you missed it the first time around, take a look at Are Professional Organizations Old School? and 5 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization. Everything seems to come packaged as a trilogy these days (even Fast & the Furious movies), so here's part 3 in the series...

5 Reasons to Ditch Your Professional Organization

1. You're Bored: If you are not engaged in what is going on, then get out. It would likely be better for you to visit a favorite spot, or to spend some time reading a great book, than frowning at the members of an organization you are not excited about.

2. Stagnant: It's the same 15 people every meeting, and you can't stand 14 of them.

3. Zero return: I'm not suggesting you look at every activity of your life in this results-only mode, but you should evaluate how you are spending your time. Most professionals complain about how they don't have enough time. If you can think of something that is much better for you professionally than attending another meeting of Brand X Organization, then move on.

4. The Pinch: In some way, every family/individual or company is feeling a pinch of the current economic situation. Most professional organizations are not cheap. There's typically an annual membership and then related costs like meals, transportation to get there, etc. It might simply be too expensive to play along right now.

5. It's for My Resume: Professional organizations are nice additions to an already great resume, but I'd hedge it will likely not be the single thing that sways a hiring manager. This can even work against you. I have spoken to several managers who will turn a critical eye to job candidates who seem to spend most of their time on professional organizations. It begs the question, "How much real work did they have time for?"

That closes out the week. Feel free to comment, sneer, etc., below.

Photo Gracias: Flickr user Chad Horwedel

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

5 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization

My recent post, "Are Professional Organizations Old School?," led to some great foll0w-up discussions. Below is a list of five reasons to participate in a professional organization. Special thanks to @LindaJacobson, @dquack, @vedo, @kristen_okla and Craig(comments) for weighing in online or off.

5 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization

1. Face-to-Face: There is still immense value in meeting with people face-to-face. Online tools like Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc., have drawn us all a bit closer online, but it is still no substitute for real live interaction. Online social interaction saps non-verbal cues and much of the human element out of everyday communication.
2. Get Out: Almost all of us are guilty of being chained to our routines. Whether you sit at a desk or have a more active job, it's easy to get in a rut. By attending a professional meeting/happy hour/etc., you are getting out of the office and into the world. Anything can happen out there.
3. Meet New People: Whether you are an independent practitioner who mostly talks to your cat or an office worker who mostly interacts with the same small group of people, there's real value in branching out and having a few new conversations. Also, you learn pretty quick about which areas you(or your organization) are ahead or behind the curve.
4. Jobs: A bit of a no-brainer here, but there are still college students being churned out every day that think they'll be handed a job based on their amazing promise and college accomplishments. I can gig them a little because I was one of those graduates. I could not understand why employers were not as excited about me as I was about me. Even if you are not looking for a job, the connections you make today could help you down the line. Good people hire good people, not resumes.
5. Leadership Experience: Every organization I have been involved with is looking for people to head up committees and perform other functions like updating a web site, managing a LinkedIn group, lining up speakers, etc. Perhaps you are a person who needs to prove to your managers that you are leadership material. Or perhaps you simply want the valuable experience of working within a leadership group. You will also gain insight into financial aspects, politics, and other areas that are possibly not part of your regular experience.

So there's my five, do you have any to add?
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Are Professional Organizations Old School?

In my professional life, I have been a member of several organizations. Some of these have been very rewarding, and some very questionable. In recent interactions, many young professionals are telling me they get what they need from online sources. They are skipping the traditional lunch and happy hour circuit for online networking sources like LinkedIn and Facebook. There's no question that it's more economical, both time and cost-wise, to invest in online groups - but is this pocket of professionals missing something?
I am not picking on recent grads, by the way, I have known many professionals who preferred not to join organizations and had long and successful careers.
So there's the question - Are the non-joiners missing out, or are they really the enlightened crowd?

Photo gracias: Flickr user Binkixxx.
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