This Week’s Networking Boomerang

What is the value of investing in building a great network of people? I think it was Chris Brogan that recently pointed out the distinction between thinking of ROI (which, in my opinion, is a fine metric for a specific tactical business approaches) vs thinking of the overall value of social networking.

One huge value of social networking is that, when you add value to others and build bridges with them, good people will add value back. It’s the boomerang effect.

Sounds nice in theory, right? But here’s the value in practice, just this week:

Example 1: We had an oven that died. While my wife attempted to find a source in the traditional way, I tossed it out on Twitter, which is now my default Help Desk.

Result? Immediate response by a friend, pointing a semi-local dealer he knew of on Twitter – which company responded immediately by Twitter and phone, and got the business in minutes.

How cool is that?

Example 2: This week, I confirmed a speaking engagement as a panelist discussing social media for automobile dealers. How did I get approached for this? Peter Shankman (who became an Ironman last week – good going, man!). Peter and I got together a few months back just to chat and get to know one another. He recommended me for this opportunity. Then, in order to help with my preparation, I put out a blog post and linked it on Twitter, asking people for links and resources on social media and automotive dealers. Within a few hours, I had everything I needed via crowdsourcing for a post-event list of resources and case studies.

Example 3: I met this week with someone from a healthcare agency interested in having workshops for social media and project management (two of my sweet spots). I didn’t know these folks from Adam and Eve, but they approached me because someone else in my pharma network passed my name along and recommended me. This is the second time in the past 6 weeks I’ve had an agency approach me this way via a third-party recommendation (thanks, Rich and Jon!)

Example 4: We’re about six weeks into our weekly #LeadershipChat on Twitter, and this past week’s on Passion was wonderfully helpful and lively. How did LeadershipChat come about? Lisa Petrilli reached out to me via social networking this spring, we met at SOBCon Chicago, and have been collaborating since. Also, via networking, Lisa got to know Tom Martin, and together with Lisa Diomede, they put together this week’s CocktailsforCauses event in Chicago.

Now, that actually isn’t everything that happened this week. And I’m not even listing the boomerangs that went out for others, which will bear fruit in their lives and businesses. Or the important, sometimes life-saving things that happen via social networks totally outside of “business value.”

When people obsess over the “ROI of Social Media,” I’m forced to smile somewhat. Who can trace the actual ROI of all the hours and effort that have gone into building an opportunity network? But, is there value? – oh, yes! The boomerangs have only just begun to fly…!

Build your network. Feed your network. Be ready for the boomerang.

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Don’t Be That (Social Media) Guy

Just. Don’t.

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Multi Me-dia: Connection Agent

I’m writing up a brief series of posts to explain the various identities I maintain on-line, via blogs and here on Twitter.

Why do I have these identities? Well, I have several quite different networks (with some overlap), and I fear overwhelming people who are interested in one aspect of my thinking and sharing (say, business networks) with a flood of information about another (say, pharma).

So, I maintain one ID that is Steve 3-D, where I interact with pretty much everyone, while also feeding three other streams that are more topical.

One of those identities is Connection Agent, which is my account focused on the business (and people) of social networking. The term “Connection Agent” is also my comprehensive brand – it’s who I am and what I do across all networks. Connection Agent is a blog (which you’re on right now), and a Twitter account. I use the Twitter account to share great resources that I find on networked communications, and also to re-tweet thought leaders in the space. If you want to know my top thought leaders and influencers, just look at who I follow at @ConnectionAgent.

I have downstream plans to create new business approaches via Connection Agent, but right now, I’ve still got my hands plenty full with Impactiviti. I believe that whole new ways of doing business via networks of quality people (Opportunity Networks) are possible. For now, a lot of the posts I write here on Connection Agent focus on social networks, marketing, and leadership.

So if you want to learn more and connect more with the social networking for business crowd, I’ll try to be your Connection Agent. If you want to interact with me on Twitter, we’ll still do that at @swoodruff. Make sense?

Next: What is Steve’s Free?

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Leadership, Strength, and Vulnerability

If it’s just a job, being vulnerable can be an option. You’re trading work for money, you’re performing designated tasks toward defined ends, and perhaps you can hold the core of your soul back behind the fortress walls, where you won’t be open to attack and hurt.

No so easy when you view your work is a calling, a cause, a mission, a personal commitment. And when you believe that 360-degree humanity ought to be part of leading and working, then some degree of vulnerability is inevitable.

So – how much? Is vulnerability a good thing in leadership? Does it need to be counter-balanced?

This will be our topic of conversation during Tuesday’s #LeadershipChat on Twitter (8 pm ET). I co-moderate this weekly event with my talented collaborator Lisa Petrilli, and here is her blog post on the subject. From the 30,000-foot level, here’s my on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand take:

  1. Effective leaders need to be human. People follow people, not robots, and being human means showing your imperfections. It means risks, mistakes, emotional engagement, and the readiness to expose enough of yourself that people trust and relate to you as a person. No vulnerability = dishonesty, and you might get some short-term results, but in the end, you’ll stand (and topple) alone. However…
  2. Certain types of leadership require far less personal vulnerability, and far more projection of strength and determination. My Marine son does not need an easily-wounded soul to be his leader into battle. He knows that his leaders are human, but when you are under fire on hostile ground, you need an icebreaker to press through the opposition, not a canoe. At times, leaders (yes, in business also) have to give vulnerability a back seat, to en-courage followers to bold and even risky action.

Think of vulnerability and courageous confidence as two water spigots, each with different temperatures. Effective leadership is not an either-or, it’s knowing that both will be needed, and wisely understanding what the needed mix is at the time. There will be occasions when one is mainly suppressed and the other projected, because those who follow need to see both. Many people want to be led, and they want to be led by someone who gives confident and bold direction. Vulnerability has its place, right beside courage. But projected weakness emboldens competitors and dispirits teammates who are looking for a rock to stand on, not sand.

A key element of effective leadership is earning respect. John Wayne may not have been a prime example on the big screen about exposing vulnerability. But you sure wanted him in the foxhole next to you when the rubber met the road!

Join us Tuesday night (8 pm ET) for #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions.)

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Multi Me-dia: Impactiviti

I’m writing up a brief series of posts to explain the various identities I maintain on-line, via blogs and here on Twitter.

Why do I have these identities? Well, I have several quite different networks (with some overlap), and I fear overwhelming people who are interested in one aspect of my thinking and sharing (say, business networks) with a flood of information about another (say, pharma).

So, I maintain one ID that is Steve 3-D, where I interact with pretty much everyone, while also feeding three other streams that are more topical.

One of those identities is Impactiviti, which is my pharma/healthcare stream. Impactiviti on-line includes a website, a blog, and a Twitter account, and it is my consulting business footprint. I use the Twitter account to upload a more concentrated dose of daily news, and also to re-tweet thought leaders in the space. If you want to know top names and networkers in pharma and e-healthcare, just look at who I follow at @impactiviti.

Impactiviti is a network/referral business, and is my proof of concept for building trusted opportunity networks to create a better business approach.

So if pharma and healthcare are interesting to you, and you want 100 proof resources and people on that topic, welcome to Impactiviti. If you want to interact with me on Twitter, we’ll still do that at @swoodruff. Make sense?

Next: What’s Connection Agent all about?

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Multi Me-dia: Steve 3-D

What’s a Steve 3-D??

Well, this week, I’m going to briefly explain the various identities I maintain on-line, via blogs and here on Twitter. And that’s one of them – the 360 degrees, HD, 3-D version.

In brief, there’s a pharma/healthcare me (@Impactiviti). The there’s the network business me (@ConnectionAgent).  Personal and inspirational stuff, including daily photos: that’s @StevesFree. Finally, there’s @LeadershipChat [shared with Lisa Petrilli] a place where we talk leadership and network around a weekly Twitter chat (8 pm ET Tuesdays).

For me, that’s plenty to keep up with – and it may be rather confusing for you! So, here’s how it works:

All of those Twitter accounts (and corresponding blogs) above are more topical in nature. They are concentrated sources of information and networking contacts so that if you have shared interests in those areas, you can get the “full dose” through those accounts. The people I follow and promote through those accounts are also my equivalent of “Follow Friday” recommendations, by interest area. Think of them more as streams from which to drink, than the get-together on the back deck.

What about interacting, however? That’s @swoodruff, my main Twitter account. Here, I share nuggets from all the different areas of interest, as well as take a more “lifestreaming” approach (today’s wine; family stuff; pix of great food; snarky observations; on-the-fly pictures of stuff; etc.) And here, we talk and exchange and interact. This is my broadest network, and it’s  Steve in 3-D, warts and all.

So, if you just want the simplest approach, find me at @swoodruff and let’s get to know one another. Next,  we’ll give a quick overview of the @Impactiviti account, which is the channel for my entrepreneurial pharma consulting business. If you’re in pharma or healthcare, there you’ll find a more concentrated network of people in the industry, and a higher-proof blend of news and resources.

And, of course, you’re welcome to follow multiple accounts, according to your interests. And if you’re a glutton for punishment….!

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Multi Me-dia

There are rules I follow. And, there are rules I break. Sometimes, it’s the very same rules!

For instance, I constantly encourage my partners and clients to narrow their focus and message down to one key differentiator. As a branding guy, I absolutely believe that’s crucial in business.

So you’d be forgiven for scratching your head and asking, “What’s with your multiple personas on-line? Three very different blogs, 4 1/2 Twitter accounts…what’s up with that?” It’s a great question, and one I’ve been wrestling with for quite some time.

Let me explain. No, there is too much…let me sum up (if you understand that movie reference, please indicate so in the comments!)

I have multiple areas of deep professional and personal interest. And they’re all me – all of them make up Brand Woodruff.

Just as I have multiple (5) sons, and seek to nurture and grow them all, so I have multiple areas of knowledge and business and creativity that I try to cultivate. They’re all part of who I am as a human professional (not merely a corporate brand). Common to all of them is network-building. Connecting people. Sharing.

How’s it working? Well, as with so much in social networking, it’s a life-experiment. Lots of on-the-fly adjusting and evolving. I wouldn’t recommend this approach for most people/businesses, but there are specific reasons why I’m doing it this way that I’ll share in the coming week. And I welcome your thoughts and comments about how it seems to work from your perspective.

If you’re on Twitter, here’s the executive summary: interacting together with me occurs primarily on the @swoodruff account. The other accounts (@Impactiviti; @ConnectionAgent; @StevesFree; and @LeadershipChat [shared with Lisa Petrilli] are primarily information-sharing streams right now). I’ll explain more next week what those different personas represent. And, so will I! Me, too!

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Who “Owns” Social Media? Answered!

The debate has been raging across the social sphere – when it comes to business, who should “own” social media? Should it be PR? Marketing? Corporate Communications? HR?

Well, meeting an end-of-October deadline for a decision, the Social Networking Ownership & Responsibility Treaty (SNORT) has just been ratified. At a secret meeting convened by the Global Union of Relative Unknowns (GURU), an A-list conclave of social media mavens and all-stars has come to a final decision, announced at midnight last night on Twitter.

Social media, from now on, will be the responsibility of the Maintenance Dept.

Anticipating an upwelling of surprise at this announcement, the cabal of rockstar bloggers and tweeters outlined the rationale for this decision, in five main points:

     

  1. The other departments are used to just throwing stuff out there and leaving the aftermath to others. Maintenance, on the other hand, is used to cleaning up the mess, and who better to deal with all the detritus that will result from ill-conceived and poorly-executed social media programs?
  2. Maintenance is already “on” 24/7. Instead of paying high-priced employees or agencies to respond to social platforms at all hours, janitors and groundskeepers can easily be trained to field comments and tweet on behalf of the company at little or no extra expense.
  3. Social media is all about tools. Maintenance works with tools.
  4. The only turf wars Maintenance cares about is defeating grubs and crabgrass. That means greater corporate peace, more productivity, a healthier corporate climate, and ultimately, a flourishing of social media happiness and harmony.
  5. Maintenance really doesn’t worry much about ROI. So that’s a natural fit.

It isn’t yet clear what all the ramifications of this move will be, but it is widely expected that most bloggers will now end up with their computers in the basement, which actually should not present any real change management issues.

While all of the members of the GURU committee had expected to remain anonymous, Wikileaks managed to obtain a 90,000-tweetchat transcript of the secret deliberations and decision (#GURUSNORT), which also indicated that there were plans afoot to certify social media practitioners through a SXSW-style popularity contest, and to stratify them according to a new measure of credibility, the “Wiley.” Wikileaks did redact out all the names of the participants, explaining in a statement that, “we didn’t feel it necessary to publicize any particular individual’s participation, because if we mentioned Mitch Joel, we’d have to talk about Joseph Jaffe and Jim Long, and then DJ Waldow would get jealous and want to make sure we also included Amber Naslund and Lisa Petrilli – so we just left all the names out. Even Liz Strauss.”

Meanwhile, the city of Austin is urging SXSW to add a new “Maintenance” track to the annual geek spring break festival,with such topics suggested as “Trash-talking Ain’t the Same as Joining the Conversation,” and “Unclogging your Micro-blogging.” The track should be held after all the other guests have left, so that the downtown area can be restored to end-to-end cleanliness by leveraging an iPhone-toting cleanup crew.

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Latest post by the Connection Agent: Multi Me-dia

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See prior spoofs :>}

Social Media Strategy in 30 Minutes

A challenge has been issued by my SOBCon friends (Terry Starbucker and Liz Strauss) – come up with a proposed social media strategy for a company that currently has no footprint in the social space (here are the details of the challenge/contest).

The firm is Colorado-based Carlsen Resources, a media/telecom executive recruiting outfit.

Typically I’d want to spend an in-depth day with the client going over brand and differentiation and message and all that good stuff, but here’s my set of suggestions based on a half-hour of musings:

1. Produce and launch the Carlsen 2-minute Drill, a weekly video series (YouTube) hosted by Ann Carlsen, and eventually others, giving helpful tips to both firms and individuals involved in the job search process. It’s so simple and inexpensive nowadays to produce reasonable-quality video for the web, and that high-impact medium will play an increasingly prominent role in all of our social communications. Eventually this “channel” can include client interviews, etc.

2. Establish a Twitter account, mainly to link up with key business people and social influencers. Provide insight through it about the search process. Give out helpful links about resume preparation, aptitude assessments, etc. Also use it to promote the videos. Make it a 2-year goal to become the go-to name for executive recruiting among the socially-connected set.

3. Take far better advantage of LinkedIn. Ann Carlsen has only one recommendation on her profile – but there are loads of recommendations for the company on the website. That imbalance needs to be rectified. LinkedIn status updates can be used quite effectively to distribute links to the videos, and can also be tied to Twitter updates. Since LinkedIn is the premier professional platform for job seekers, tying all social efforts closely to it is a no-brainer. Also, the other Carlsen employees should have much deeper sets of contacts, and recommendations, on LinkedIn – those profiles are very uneven in depth.

4. Create (and promote) a Netvibes portal for job seekers, and one for employers. Stuff them with top links/destinations for anyone seeking to gather resources for the search process. This is a build-once, benefit-forever endeavor requiring little time. Since this portal will be fed by RSS feeds (blogs and news sources), it also provides a rich resource for surfacing “stuff” to tweet on Twitter daily.

Of course, all of this has to tie into the overall company culture and method, which means that, at minimum, the company website will need some renewed attention. Right now, it’s too much text and recruiter-speak. Probably the best course is to play off of the line, “The Best People in the Business” by spotlighting (in a more personal way) more about each employee, and also how selective the company is to only recruit and work with the best. Right now, much of the text on the website could easily be one-for-one swapped into some other recruiter’s site, which means that the distinguishing message isn’t at the forefront and being driven through.

It would take a bit more analysis to fine-tune the recommendations and come up with some uniquely creative angles, but this is a start for the basic blocking-and-tackling level. The most important two bits of advice to add:

1. Be in it for the long-haul.

2. Be ready to evolve.

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Leadership, and the NPR Firing Fiasco

Juan Williams had one of those “transparent moments.” He said something that sounded politically-incorrect (when extracted from its context). He wandered off-script from the acceptable speech codes of his politically-partisan bosses. He was diagnosed as a bigot and summarily fired by those paragons of tolerance and free speech, National Public Radio.

In some countries, leadership and censorship have always been affiliated. But here…?

Society’s grievance groups will always call for the scalp of anyone that speaks uncomfortable truth in plain terms, because they make no distinction between honest humanity and evil bigotry. But radical Muslim clerics didn’t even have a chance to issue a fatwa on Williams before the imams at NPR tossed the apostate under the bus. After all, he’d committed a capital offense – being himself. Showing some transparency that didn’t conform to the NPR template.

And isn’t that what effective leadership is all about? Keeping the troops in line and punishing those who violate the canons of controlled speech?

On the Twitter #LeadershipChat tonight, we’ll be discussing how leadership operates in this dawning era of increasingly-public transparency. There are new challenges in the area of corporate leadership, brought on by the transparency encouraged (and sometimes, the exposure forced) by our always-on, unfiltered media networks – including our rapidly-growing social networks.

Juan Williams revealed something of himself and paid a price. NPR certainly exposed something of itself and is paying a price in the public discourse. So how do we lead, and how do we express our own humanity, in an environment where transparency may clash with (in)tolerance?

Read what my co-moderator Lisa Petrilli has to say about this topic. Then join us Tuesday night (8 pm ET) for #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions.)

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Are Women Better Leaders than Men? Puh-lease!

Talk about plunging our feet into controversy! What are we thinking, taking on this topic for our 2nd weekly #LeadershipChat?

Well, stirring the pot, that’s what!

Lisa Petrilli and I are reacting to this article recently published by Forbes, called “Girls Rule.” It’s an interesting read, about how well some public companies are doing under female CEOs.

Of course, as usual, people want to generalize based on exceedingly narrow data pools. Sigh. Can’t we get past these dumb, divisive approaches?

Here is Lisa’s take on the issue, in which she raises some great questions. On the other hand, below is my rant. I don’t often use the word “stupid” in video blogs. But it only takes a few seconds into this one to pull that word out the hat.

Here’s the main point: Certain people will be better leaders for certain groups of people, in certain situations. It’s not a matter of male or female superiority in leadership. It boils down to the individual case.

What do you think? Read the Forbes article, read Lisa Petrilli’s post, and give it some thought.

Then join us Tuesday night (8 pm ET) for #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions.)

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Leadership and Power – Let’s Chat!

Tonight, Tuesday Oct. 12th, will be the inaugural #LeadershipChat on Twitter. If you’ve missed the prior notifications, here is where I announced this joint venture with my co-conspirator Lisa Petrilli. #LeadershipChat will be held at 8 pm ET Tuesday nights, starting today!

Our approach will be to take one highly discuss-able topic, and before the chat, write up our perspectives (usually it will spring from an article by a third party). Here is our theme this week: Leadership and Organizational Power. Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer is interviewed for this piece called The One Thing You Need to Get Ahead, and we both have strong reactions to it (please read it for yourself ahead of the chat!)

Here is Lisa’s post yesterday on her blog (which is excellent, by the way – subscribe if you haven’t already)! Below is my video-blog reaction. I really REALLY wanted to do a scorched-earth evisceration of the article but instead, tried to be at least halfway civil (no guarantees on restraint tonight – it might get pretty free-wheeling)! It’ll be interesting to hear your reactions and perspectives as we discuss it.

These links should be enough to get your wheels turning for the chat! Grab a glass of wine and let’s talk – just search on the term #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions. It’s one fun and fast-paced hour)!

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Leaders extol LeadershipChat

Yes, you’ll want to reserve 8-9 pm (ET) on Tuesdays for the very informative and provocative LeadershipChat (hashtag: #LeadershipChat) on Twitter. Your hosts: Steve Woodruff and Lisa Petrilli – details here.

Just listen to what other leading lights are saying:

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Tweeting with the Stars

What are you doing during Prime Time on Tuesday nights?

I know what I’ll be doing – Tweeting with the Stars! Because starting next Tuesday (Oct 12th) at 8 pm (ET), something new and exciting is being added to your on-line lineup.

And you’re free to not only tune in, but dance tweet with us!

Leadership Chat (#LeadershipChat) debuts on Tuesday evenings, hosted by on-line Twitter emcees Lisa Petrilli and Steve Woodruff. Now I’m not quite sure about Lisa, but her co-host definitely can’t dance – not on-line, not off-line, not line dancing, nuthin’! But we do tweet, and we share a passion for principled, effective leadership. As we’ll bet you do.

So YOU get to be the stars as we all chat together about Leadership topics each week. While these one-hour Twitter chats will be free-flowing, there will also be thought-provoking themes, which we’ll introduce on our blogs beforehand each week – perhaps with some point/counter-point edginess (when I read the article which will provide the topic for our first discussion, I got kinda riled up!). Here’s Lisa’s take on the announcement.

The topics will focus on leadership, but you don’t need to be some kind of executive honcho to take part. The fact is, how leaders lead affects us all, and we hope to enjoy a wide range of opinions on effective leadership. And you should know that I like Lisa very much and all, but I’m from the blow-up-the-old-structures entrepreneurial side of the tracks, and she’s done a lot of that corporate gig thing.

There are other tweet chats out there, and some of them are pretty good, but LeadershipChat will be the best. Don’t take my word for it. This comes straight from the White House:

So join us for the inaugural whirl around the chat floor next week! You’ll come out of it enlightened, exhilarated, or at the very least dizzy with new insights! And in the meantime, follow us on Twitter at @LeadershipChat. Yes, that’s your call to action, but we’re asking nicely…! :>}

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Twitter Chat: Pharma + Social Media

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 12 noon ET, there will be a live Twitter chat about Pharma+Social Media, hosted by yours truly, Steve Woodruff, the Connection Agent.

Please join us! Here are a couple items to prime your discussion pump, esp. if you’re not involved with pharma currently. First, this helpful blog post by Abby Carr sketches out some of the challenges we all face in highly-regulated industries.

Second, this little video I created takes a more fun approach to the upside-down world of pharma social media (warning: if you are sipping coffee, you might snort it out your nose – just saying…):

To follow along (and participate!), you can go here: http://hashtagsocialmedia.com/live

or here: http://tweetchat.com/room/sm78

…starting at 11:55 am or so. Disclosure – if you’ve not done one of these chats before, the pace of information flow will get your blood pumping! Be sure to take your meds…

Thanks to Marc Meyer and Jason Breed for inviting me to lead this chat (this is #78 in their #socialmedia chat series!)

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Social Media: Start Here

You are considering how “social media” fits into your current or future business strategy.

Or, you are already on board with social networking but have to convince colleagues or clients who are skeptical.

Here’s my advice: Don’t start with social media. Start with the much bigger trends, which are making social media inevitable.

It’s all outlined here: The New Normal: Networked Communications. This Slideshare explains that technology-fueled Trend Currents (not current trends!) are shaping society in such a way that the use of social media/networked communications is inexorable – and inevitable.

If you’re looking for help educating professional colleagues and clients about how networked communications are (inevitably) re-shaping business, let me know. That’s my consulting/speaking sweet spot.

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[This post is the summary of a series of posts, each covering a certain aspect of the topic: see part 1, The New Normal; part 2, The New Normal is the Old Normal; part 3, The Microphone is Mine Now; part 4, The Incredibly Shrinking Middleman; part 5, Someone Took Down the Fences, part 6, The New Digital Neighborhood; and this final post - Social Media: Start Here]

Test-Driving Paper.li

As you may already be aware, I’ve recently transitioned this blog from the name StickyFigure to my updated identity, Connection Agent.

The major reason is that I’m intent on exploring new ways to connect people and networks, and build new business structures based on Networked Communications.

As part of that effort, The Connection Agent blog and Twitter account (@ConnectionAgent) will be places where we experiment with stuff. New technologies and approaches to tie people together.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been test-driving paper.li, which automagically curates a daily newspaper based on the items shared by a Twitter list you create. Ross Dawson just wrote a helpful overview, and an explanation of how curated news apps work (and why they’re becoming so popular). Louis Gray also put up a helpful post on the broader topic of information curation.

I’ve created multiple papers for two types of audience: thematic interest (pharma/healthcare), and local interest (social media folks in a given geographical area), to see if this is a helpful tool in promoting people and exposing them to their peers:

http://bit.ly/PharmaNewsDaily (pharma news drawn from links shared on Twitter)

http://bit.ly/PharmaNetworkersDaily (drawn from top links shared by pharma’s influential social media types on Twitter)

http://bit.ly/HealthcareDaily (healthcare news drawn from Twitter, with a bit of focus on digital/eHealthcare)

http://bit.ly/ePatientsDaily (links and news shared by influential ePatients and advocates on Twitter)

http://bit.ly/BostonDaily (links and news shared by influential Boston-area folks on Twitter)

http://bit.ly/ConnecticutDaily (links and news shared by influential CT folks on Twitter)

http://bit.ly/NJDaily (links and news shared by influential NJ folks on Twitter)

http://bit.ly/Chicago_Daily (links and news shared by influential Chicago-area folks on Twitter)

Paper.li is cool in that it auto-tweets when a new daily edition is out, AND features in that tweet a few of the Twitter handles that are included – thereby increasing exposure. And yes, it does provide regular exposure for the creator of the paper – a nice benefit if you’re a network-builder. If you subscribe to a Daily (using Alert Me button), it sends an e-mail to you with a link each day when the edition is ready – very handy.

Two major upsides:

- Automated curation in a build-once leave-alone format. You set it up once, and it just runs.

- It brings together a group of resources/links into one place at one time, in easy to read format. Many of these are links you might have missed in your standard tweetstream.

Here are two downsides I see thus far:

- The paper roughly comes out each day at about the time of day you originally created it. The creator should be able to specify a delivery time.

- If you create multiple papers, as I have (and I’m probably an exception), and people subscribe to your Twitter feed, they may feel that they are getting “spammed” by paper.li links on a daily basis ->

My experience with the tool and approach has been mostly positive so far. But that’s me – what matters is you, the readers.

So, now I want to hand the microphone over to you. What do you think of paper.li? Are you getting any papers from others, or have you created your own? Does it help in network-building? Do you see downsides? Let’s discuss this – the whole approach is not going away, so let’s start brainstorming together how it can be refined and improved.

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Someone Please Make This

Backstory: A lot of what we do in social networking really ends up NOT being conversation.

So…here’s the real-time, conversational social networking platform I want:

- I can be inside a wide open area (the Lounge), or grab a Room with a few friends for a more private chat.

- I can lurk quietly and observe, or make my presence known and interact.

- In the Rooms, I can engage using text/chat, audio, or video. With 1-10 people.

- I can classify my contacts by level of intimacy, so that I can more quickly and easily connect to closer friends (knowing when they are present)

- I can set up my own fixed “Room” for scheduled meetings

- I can use geolocation (mobile) or zip code entry to go to “local” sections of the Lounge and see who is actually close-by in the real world

- I can archive threaded chat, audio, and/or video conversations (this would become the killer interview platform!)

A lot of this has been done in bits and pieces – Second Life, FourSquare, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, TinyChat, Stickam, etc. etc. But no-one has pulled all the pieces together to make a flexible, intuitive, real-time conversational social platform.

Google, are you listening? You’ve just announced Gmail phone calling, with a tie-in to Google Voice. You’ve got so many of the pieces and this is your chance to finally launch a social platform that rocks the house…

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The Rebirth of Conversation

I really enjoyed Mitch Joel’s recent post (The End of Conversation in Social Media), and a few other posts touching on the same theme (by Dave Winer, Leo Laporte, and Joseph Jaffe).

Instead of just spinning our wheels about whether or not we’re really having solid conversational engagement on blogs, Twitter, etc., it seems to me that we could better spend our energy fixing the problem.

I’m betting some smart little start-up could pull off a cool alpha version in 8 weeks.

What we need is a platform that overcomes the asynchronous aspect of blogs/Twitter/Facebook etc., AND allows us to have smaller, more intimate conversations with a select few. Here’s how it could work.

Your Twitter (or Facebook, or LinkedIn….) contacts are imported. The user is able to classify each contact into one of say, 4 categories (Intimate; Friend; Acquaintance; Waved-at-your-avatar-in-passing-once-or-twice).

Let’s say you have 1/2 hour one night that you’d like to devote to REAL, real-time conversation. When you login, the platform detects who is on-line, sorting them by your levels of familiarity. You can choose to be in the lounge (wide-open room, like Twitter or a tweetchat), or in a private room. If you choose to have a conversation with one or a few friends (pre-planned or spontaneous), you take it into a room, which can then remain open for others, or closed off.

So, I might login, and see that my friend Lisa Petrilli is having a conversation with Liz Strauss and Tom Martin. All of these are already close friends of mine (Intimates), and I see that the link shows that the door is “open” – so I join in. But if this was a private session for just those three, I wouldn’t even see it.

A conversation struck up in the lounge could easily move to a private room, of course – and people hanging out in the lounge can be privately invited to a smaller-scale conversation in a side room when the participants see that this friend has logged in.

I guess you could also have a setting where a group could conduct a conversation/interview and others could “lurk” but not participate.

We wouldn’t go to this platform to promote blog posts or share links (primarily). It’s for conversation. A tie-in to video and/or audio Skype would be a huge bonus.

Really, this is not new technology. It’s a marriage of existing capabilities we already have. But it’s a scalable and controllable way to bring real-time interaction back to social networking.

What do you think?

(Update 1: Jaffe points out that much of what is described above is built into the design of Second Life. True – but what we need [in my opinion] is that approach without the confusing overhead of the 3-D interface. Simple, fast, mobile-friendly.)

(Update 2: here’s an interesting new app under development that does part of this, AND includes a “local” aspect – nice!)

(Update 3: Mike Sansone picks up the theme that blogging is still very much alive at the center of networking – a perspective with which I agree)

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Networked Communications (part 2): The New Normal is The Old Normal

(see part 1, the introductory post, here)

When two people catch up on neighborhood news across the backyard fence, what is it called? Networked Communications (some might call it gossip, but we’ll leave that out for the moment…!)

It’s just people communicating with other people in some form of connected network. Like – what we’ve always done. And do now.

Water cooler talk? Networked Communications.

Telegraph? Hard-wired phones? Cell phones? Networked Communications.

E-mail? IM? Social gatherings? All of it is Networked Communications.

So what is Social Media? What about blogs, Twitter, Facebook, on-line video, and the next new shiny thing that pops up? You guessed it. Networked Communications. People are sharing, connecting, communicating (as we have always done), with the enhancement of a digital web.

Each technological advance over the centuries has simply made communicating/networking faster and easier. Today’s social media is not to be thought of as some radically new thing. It’s Networked Communications, turbocharged. Nothing more, nothing less.

So here’s the point – when we talk about these approaches with our clients and colleagues, we need to de-mystify the whole thing by discussing the broader context. What we’re doing with digital social networking tools is simply accelerating something we’ve always done – build and participate in networks, and communicate within them.

All this newfangled social media stuff can be discussed as facilitation tools for communicating. Like a cell phone once was (now, of course, it’s an assumed appendage). In very short order, what we now call “social media” will be like the combustion engine or a cell phone. A given.

Whether it’s marketing, or PR, or internal silo-busting communications, or whatever, it’s all Networked Communications. It’s an inevitable progression, not some exotic new fad. When we talk to clients and colleagues, we should talk about inexorable trends. It’s the New Normal.

And the New Normal is the Old Normal. On steroids.

[This post is part of a series of posts, each covering a certain aspect of the topic: see part 1, The New Normal; part 2, The New Normal is the Old Normal; part 3, The Microphone is Mine Now; part 4, The Incredibly Shrinking Middleman; part 5, Someone Took Down the Fences, part 6, The New Digital Neighborhood; and the summary post - Social Media: Start Here]

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Networked Communications (part 1): The New Normal

When trying to make the case for using social networking approaches in business, advocates often make a fundamental mistake.

We talk about social media.

Social media/social networking is often presented in isolation. In fact, to properly evaluate these approaches, it all needs to be seen in a much broader context:

You can debate the utility of using this or that social media approach for a given objective or audience. But you cannot debate the inexorable nature of a tidal wave. And when having these discussions, we need to move away from “social media” or “Twitter” or “Facebook” and put a spotlight on much bigger issues. Tidal wave issues.

Remember when people debated about whether or not we’d use personal computers (let alone the distant dream of “smartphones”)? We don’t have that discussion anymore, do we? The INEXORABLE movement of computing power into smaller and cheaper packages made it inevitable that the argument would eventually end with one, and only one, outcome.

Social media – social networking – networked communications – is like that. Except, any debate will end faster!

So, it’s time to look at the bigger trends shaping society, where the real case is made for using these new tools and approaches.

What are these bigger trends?

Social media is actually part of a larger category (Networked Communications), which is itself  being shaped by large scale cultural and technical trends. Let’s call it the Trend Current – whereas “current trends” has the connotation of temporary shallowness, the Trend Current is deep, broad, and inexorable.

Trend Currents make the case for us that this “social media” thing is not some fad, and is definitely not some add-on to a marketing plan. In fact, there are at least 5 Trend Currents that demonstrate how social networking already does, and increasingly will, pervade the landscape of business and life.

We will look at each of these trends in separate posts this week. Here’s the bullet point overview:

  1. Networked Communications: The New Normal is the Old Normal
  2. Self-Expression: The Microphone is Mine Now
  3. Disintermediation: The Incredibly Shrinking Middleman
  4. Peer-to-Peer Engagement: Someone Took Down the Fences
  5. Communities: The New Digital Neighborhoods

That’s a lot of words, but here’s the point: when business stakeholders realize that the river is flowing downhill and will only get wider and faster, that makes the argument for using a boat much easier. If you think that social media is a fad, or may dry up, or isn’t woven into the fabric of unstoppable Trend Currents, then the battle to get engaged is an uphill one. Which is why we have to focus more on the river than on the boat.

Make sense? Tune in this week as we open up each of these trends. Perhaps by Friday it’ll be easier to make the case for networked communications!

[This post is part of a series of posts, each covering a certain aspect of the topic: see part 1, The New Normal; part 2, The New Normal is the Old Normal; part 3, The Microphone is Mine Now; part 4, The Incredibly Shrinking Middleman; part 5, Someone Took Down the Fences, part 6, The New Digital Neighborhood; and the summary post - Social Media: Start Here]

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The Question I’ll Never Ask You

“Will you be my virtual friend?”

My kids accuse me of having a host of virtual friends. Wrong, kiddos.

I have a network of very real people – friends, acquaintances, colleagues, clients – some of whom I just haven’t met face-to-face yet.

They’re no less real than anyone else. The fact the we “pre-met” and communicate via virtual platforms doesn’t change that.

By all means, let’s connect. But there’s no virtual person in the relationship. Perhaps we should stop talking about “real-life” and “on-line” friends and just be…friends.

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Doubt the Power of Twitter?

Just scroll down and read up. See, in real-time (this is only a few minutes ago), what Twitter and a caring network can do…

The accident happened in central Connecticut – comfort and coordination began arriving in moments from Oman, Canada, and the United States.

Thanks, everyone, for pitching in (literally, from around the world!) to help Leigh – esp. Dr Jonathan, who took the lead coordinating local rescue and giving Leigh advice. It doesn’t get any more wonderful than this.

UPDATE: Here is Leigh Fazzina’s post describing the entire event.

UPDATE 2: A local TV report, and the story on MSNBC website.

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When Your Avatar goes over to the Dark Side

By and large, Twitter works. Except when it doesn’t.

So, I wanted to change my avatar yesterday. That usually hasn’t been any kind of problem in the past. But now, Twitter refuses to upload a new image. It has been kidnapped by the dark side of the Force. Instead, I have the spammer-looking bird with a yellow background (and yellow is NOT my color!)

Here’s what it looks like when I try to upload a new Profile image:

Note that the usual little links (Edit this image, Delete this image) have now gone missing. Well, not to worry – I just browse, select an image file (yes, it conforms to the standards, and yes, I’ve tried multiple different ones including my previous one – and, yes, I’ve tried different browsers and even different computers), and here’s what happens:

I select the file path, click “Save” at the bottom, the message comes up that the Settings have been saved – but instead of the new avatar image, there is a perpetually rotating “I’m still looking for something” series of bars, roughly tracing the circular shape of the Death Star.

No new avatar. Yellow bird. And some faint but threatening voice in the background muttering something about my “destiny.”

This leaves me with only one very important question. WHY?

Anyone have a clue?

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Don’t be That “Recycling” Guy (or Gal)

<Rant starts>

I saw a whole boatload of them this morning. Maybe that was a “sign” that it was time to write this post….!

If you’re on Twitter just or primarily to regurgitate other peoples links and content – including semi-inspirational quotes – then, to be perfectly blunt, you’re adding a lot of noise but little value.

Re-tweeting good content or the occasional worthwhile bromide to our audience(s) is a normal and valued part of the Twittersphere. Intermingled with original thought and content, it’s signal and not noise (well, usually!) But if you’re seeking to build up an audience just by being a recycler – what are you contributing?

I don’t need to follow recyclers (and I don’t). I want to know who YOU are, what YOU’RE thinking – there’s gotta be some gold in them thar hills, right? So if you’re on Twitter, why not bring out your gold? Don’t just toss around other peoples’ coins.

It takes no talent to be a recycler. Be a producer instead!

</Rant ends – unless you want to add your own in the comments!>

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