Category Archives: strategic networking

Do you have a “Go-To” Top 10?

Who are your Go-To Top 10?

Who are your Go-To Top 10?

All of us have situations which are problematic. They can range from  minor irritations and something irksome, to outright  emergencies.    To get out of a hole we might need repairmen, baby sitters or service providers in a wide range of fields.  But one area which we woefully neglect  is the development of strategic alliances to support an emergency in our careers.

We all need a ‘Go-To” Top 10.

These will be your top 10 top professional connections to whom you can turn in a crisis or even with a problem or a question.

All our requirements are different when we assess who should be included on that list.  Broadly speaking there are some general guidelines that apply to us all.  There will be variations according to the severity of the situation:  whether it’s a little situational glitch, a specific question or something more major requiring a full  emergency landing.

  • Go-To Top 1 : Do you have a mentor?  This would be the senior or elder states person in your professional life who can share their deep experience and wisdom.  This will be immediately calming and informative as appropriate,  or both.
  • Go-To Top 2 :  Do you have an internal sponsor?   This role will be filled by a  confidante,  a door opener,  someone whose  professional status and standing will be sufficiently significant to catalyze responses to calls and emails,  or even better to effect introductions to contacts beyond your reach .
  • Go-To  Top 3, 4 and 5: Do you have external sponsors?  See above,  but with a wider reach in your geographic region or functional or market sector.  Having one for each segment of activity would be even more beneficial. If you have connections in line with your longer term goals so much the better.
  • Go-To  Top 6: Do you know a super-connector?  This will be different for all of us.  I count on my super connectors,  but in turn fulfill that function for others. They are the ones who say  ” Let me think… have you tried …????.”
  • Go-To Top 7  Do you know a curator? We all come across the person whose catch phrases are ” have you seen? or ” have you read?” These individuals will be veritable gold mines of information, sometimes obscure, sometimes less so. They will know where to look for any key information on and  in the latest emergency and can send you there quickly, thus saving you hours of valuable time.
  • Go-To  Top 8:  Do you have a port in a storm? We all need a sympathetic shoulder to lean on,  some one who will be there only for us. Their role is not to advise  but perhaps put the kettle on,  open a bottle of something cold and white (or warm and red) and just listen neutrally.   Very often this role is best  fulfilled outside an intimate relationship,  although  not always.
  • Go-To Top 9:  Do you have a devil’s advocate?   Their role in any Go-To Top 10 is to give you the viewpoint from the other side. Their skill in constructive communication will be peerless as they force us to examine our own roles and responsibilities in any debacle and communicate that to us in a way we can hear .  They risk our moods, wrath and petulance or even worse. They are people who know us well.
  • Go-To  Top 10:  Do you have a  list of specialists  Whether this includes doctors, lawyers, coaches, bank managers   accountants or any other type of professional  or technical specialist, it’s always useful to have a full,  up to date list of people you can call on.  If anyone in a network has no problem being contacted out of the blue after years of neglect, it’s usually because they are charging a significant fee.

Who would you put on your list?

B.A.S.I.C: A Networking strategy for Women

Create a  simple networking strategy

I was invited recently to a corporate sponsored  (this is important) golf outing as a guest for the social only, clearly being expected to play to my strengths! My short game is somewhat longer than it should be.

As I waited at the bar in the club house for my host, I observed the players coming off the course and circulating. Here are two almost verbatim accounts of conversations between 2 pairs of golfers I overheard at the 19th hole:

Ladies

Maria : Hi I’m  Maria  J. Pleased to meet you. Are you a member here?
Jane: Jane P. Yes I’ve been a member for 10 years Which club do you belong to?
Maria: Sunny Golf Club, I joined in 2000
Jane: That’s a nice course too. I did look at it when I first started playing, but the  traffic is really bad on the A123, especially on a Friday. Where are you driving from?
Maria: Well, I work on Business Street, Brussels but live in Very Nice Suburb. On the weekends – it’s only 20 minutes by car.
Jane: Very Nice Suburb? That’s a great area. But quite far from Business Street.
 Maria: I know – the kids go to X School and we wanted to be close to there. Even now I feel as if I spend my entire life in the car! Do you have kids? (in response to nod) Where do they go to school?
Jane :  They’re only in the local primary school – but I still spend too much time  in traffic!

 (Conversation continued about best school runs,  school curricula, summer programmes …)

If you want to become an effective networker check out the coaching programmes and training options

Gentlemen          

Tom:  Tom X. Pleased to meet you
Joe Joe  Y… likewise. How did you get on today? Great course –I  haven’t played here  for years
Tom     10 over. More bogies than birdies as they say. You?
Joe –  played  to my handicap
Tom :     what are you at?
Joe:      22 and you?
Tom : 16,  just dropped last year. Where do you play?
Joe :   Sunny Golf Club –been a member for 10 years
Tom:  Good course. Played there with Peter X of Better Products last summer.  He smashed that 9th hole, the one with the dog-leg to the green. Do you know him?
Joe:  That’s true the 9th is tough–I know Pete X well – we should play together sometime. Let’s set something up maybe in October? We have a roll-up competition ( Pulls card out of wallet)

(Conversation continued about business and golf  courses, people they had in common and  game set up)

 I recounted this story to lunch buddy Silvana Delatte  who challenged me to create an  acronym to help women network.

This  is what I came up with B.A.S.I.C.

  • #B =   Wear your business hat first at a professional  and corporate event. Be strategic and inquisitive professionally.  Identify some business basics and have networking goals!   It’s OK!
  • #A =    Assess the situation.   Ask Socratic questions  (who, what where, why and how?) to find out more about the person. Ask for card and contact details. Give yours.  Avoid Mumspeak and private over sharing  too early in this conversation. At a school parents’ evening it would be different. This  can actually upset women without children, as much as diluting a woman’s professional presence.
  • #SSynergy what and who do you have in common? Be strategic! Suggest connecting on an online platform. You are then connected not just to them but  also able to tap into their networks.
  • #I  = show interest and interact professionally as well as personally. Implement your strategy.
  • #C =  Now is the time to Chat and Create relationships. People do business with individuals they like and trust. This is where women excel, social beings that we are.

Research by Monica Stallings of The Wharton School, suggests that both men and women show a preference for multi-plex networking, that is,  they network with people they like and trust. But it’s men’s willingness to be more instrumental  and strategic,  that puts them ahead of the networking game.  We all wear many hats in our daily lives.  We wouldn’t wear a fascinator to the office or a business suit to the gym.  Leaving our parenting hat in the cupboard at a corporate event is no different, until it’s an appropriate time to share.

Neither Jane or Maria had brought cards to the event. Jane’s company shortly afterwards announced major cuts in the workforce. Maria is the HR Director of a company in a loosely related sector.   Would being aware of each other’s professional identities have made a difference? They’ll never know!

What acronym can you create to prompt women  (and men)  to become  more effective networkers?

Personal Branding Conflict: Who Owns Your Online Contacts

 A problem waiting to happen.

Personal Branding  as a career management tool for all employees and job seekers has been strongly encouraged since Tom Peters urged us all to become our own Chief Marketing Officers.  Today,  many employees network strategically in both their personal and professional lives to create an effective career strategy and now have strong personal brands.

Personal vs Corporate

This  recent development is proving to be challenging for some businesses, as they are becoming aware of a growing need to manage employee individuality within the context of their own organisational structures. Some are now playing catch up. I had two interesting conversations this week. Both made me think that there ‘s trouble brewing out there in cyber space, the ramifications of which we have yet to fully understand.

And according to a report by DLA Piper, Knowing your Tweet from your Trend,  I am not alone in these concerns.

Complex

Many column inches have been given over to employee content on social media, where the nature of some tweets and Facebook updates has resulted in disciplinary action and even dismissal. But what about the unchartered territory of the ownership of contacts and connections with whom employees are engaging? Whose are they exactly? Organisations are struggling to exercise control between an employee’s business and personal life on social media, where the  divide is often indistinct. This is particularly true on LinkedIn, which now has 220 million members globally.

Who owns your LinkedIn connections?

The first chat last week was with an executive search associate who told me that his company was now using LinkedIn as a date base and had all but stopped using their own in-house applicant tracking  system. It was simply easier to keep up with changes in potential candidates movements on-line and saved a huge amount of time for all concerned, cutting data inputting costs totally he told me. Little warning bells jingled in my ears.  “What happens if the consultants leave?”  I asked. The response was that the  connections would be transferred to the practise partner. At that juncture, the little tinkles, became massive gongs, as the company had no contractual legal procedure in place to cover this.

Fast forward to the end  of the week. Simon was a Business Development Director with a Financial Services Consulting organisation. On Friday, he was called into his bosses office and although he was clearly aware that business was slowing down,  he was shocked to find that within  2 hours he had been “let go” and cut off from the company server. Amongst the mountain of paperwork he has been asked to sign,  is a clause asking for his LinkedIn password to transfer his connections to another sales person in the company. Now Simon is a very strategic and creative networker.

He invests a significant amount of time cultivating a meaningful network, both physically and virtually. He feels that his associates and superiors  never  committed to online networking. He maintains that his contacts have been developed over his entire career and have nothing to do with his employer. He is also well-connected personally via his family, high-profile school and university and is not about to hand those details over without a fight.

The company differs and is arguing that many of his connections were cultivated as an integral part of his role with them, on their time and need to be returned. Both are seeking legal advice. How do we decide if a contact is a personal or a business one and what happens if those connections are inter-changeable?

Legal Action

According to The Telegraph, a British court has already ordered a recruitment consultant to hand over his LinkedIn contacts to his previous employer. In this particular case the consultant had started trading on his own account before then end of his contract, which muddies the water slightly. But if the data for all his connections is in the public domain – are they “his” in the first place?

Personal Profiles

LinkedIn profiles are indeed personal online resumés, reflecting individual achievements and success stories, rather than company branding messages. Some individuals are very savvy about the use of this platform and maximise the opportunities it offers both personally and professionally often times merging the two areas. Others are lethargic and disinterested, with incomplete profiles and minimal or no activity.

DLA Piper suggests that only 14% of employers have policies in place which regulate social media activity outside the workplace.  Failure to provide clarity on the ownership of connections will result in many unforseen ramifications. It will also cause confusion on the value of personal branding as a career management tool and  perhaps impact the energy individuals put into online networking.

Would you take the time to build up your online connections and create these strategic alliances, if they become the “property” of your employer on departure? For me, it’s no different than asking the employee of yester year to hand over his/her Rolodex or Filofax on departure. When a client interfacing employee resigns or is fired, there has always been a commercial risk of them taking their contacts with them. This is why many organisations have non competition clauses in their contracts. Whether contacts are actual or online in my book, will not make any real difference.

Or will we see a return of the adage – “Never mix business and pleasure” ? .

I “link” therefore I exist! Modern connectivity

Drowning in the Google pool and sinking into oblivion

 Modern connectivity There was a time probably no more than 5 years ago, when I could do my job very effectively by going into my contact data base and simply picking up the phone. Those days are gone. In 2008, as world markets crashed taking many global businesses with them, millions lost their jobs and disappeared into the ether of unemployment. If, and when they resurfaced they were difficult to reach. The foundations of the way most of us did business crumbled beneath us, as we tried to find new ways to stay connected.

At the same time we saw a dramatic upturn in the use of social media, which heralded a new era for business generally and became especially valuable in the executive search and hiring process. Early adopters got a head start. Now it is less ” I think therefore I exist” but more ” I link therefore I exist”. We are in an age of super connectivity.

Google ranking
Many column inches have been written about online connections. The quality vs quantity discussion rages unabated and I’m not even going to get into that one. My simple point is that unless you are a high-ranking executive in publically registered company, or some sort of super star, with acres of media coverage to your name, and land a first page Google ranking (for positive reasons!), an online professional profile or other virtual presence, which benefits you professionally, is a must. For the average, mere job seeking mortal, the failure to have an online professional identity, while possibly not total career hari kari, will be tantamount to jumping into the Google pool with lead weights on your ankles. You will simply sink into oblivion.

What  to do?

  • Get going! Create an online professional presence:  this enables you to be found  not just by search specialists and hiring managers but anyone who wishes to locate you or your professional expertise. This will vary from one country to another. The strongest global English-speaking platform is LinkedIn. Other platforms such as Viadeo or Xing also carry traction in different geographic areas.  The 3 demographics most reluctant to do this in my experience are entry-level, women and Boomers. This one simple process shows you care and are switched on!
  • Complete the profile fully and strategically: using  strong key search words. Generally I find the people who get most frustrated (and whinge the loudest) with a tendency to blame other external factors,  are the ones who have the weakest profiles and fewest connections.
  • Connect and engage strategically: build up your professional network, establish relationships,  generate credibility in your industry or sector. Set up an online trail of links to you! You can’t tap into your network unless you have one. Reluctant categories in my experience are: entry-level and women
  • Manage your reputation: leverage social media to cement the professional you. Use key words in your other online profiles and even a link to your online CV or LinkedIn profile.   Entry level, women and Boomers are the equally reluctant to do this. Social media is no longer just social, but has a professional component too. That’s why it’s called Personal Branding. Change your privacy settings if this really bothers you.
  • Don’t neglect other personal  networks: there is tendency with social media pundits to drink their own Kool Aid and believe their own hype, that these platforms are the “one- stop- shop” solution. No matter what, you have to get out from behind the computer and network personally! An online professional presence is only one tool in a much bigger job search tool kit. Category most reluctant to do this – women and entry-level.

As we teeter yet again on the brink of a possible financial services meltdown, with Greece clinging to the edge of the Acropolis by its fingernails, those without professional online “links” will almost certainly be caught at a disadvantage. There is even in my anecdotal experience, an emerging pattern of which demographics are constantly at risk.

Regrettably we have to do more than “think” to exist today. We have to “link“.

Criteria for a strategic network

It's not important what your strategy is -just that you have one

So what criteria do you use to create your network? Who is missing? Who do you need to add? What strategic alliances can you create?

Although not an open networker, I am a strategic one and I have over time become an advocate of the theory that there is strength in a weak network. I don’t  connect with just anyone and everyone, but I don’t mind if I don’t know the individual personally. That particular connection may not be directly helpful, but perhaps will be connected to someone who might be. Being pathologically curious I am always open to meeting new people.

Everyone will have different needs when creating a strong network. It will depend on age, level of experience and the type of professional activity you have and of course your personality and career goals. It’s not important what your strategy is – just that you have one and it works for you. And it should be effective and support your main goals, rather than a time consuming end itself. It’s not about building up numbers for their own sakes . So what do I look for when I try to extend my network whether on-line or IRL (In Real Life)?

  • Professional connections:  I try to link to people who are well-connected in my areas of special interest: executive search, coaching, career transition, and women’s issues in the workplace.  I aim for balance. For me this is very much related to the sharing of experiences and ideas and intellectual stimulation, as much as their influence .
  • Established and /or senior connections and allies: I look  to connect with some people who are deeply established in their field or holding senior positions in their organisations.  A quiet word from them in the appropriate ear can carry a lot of weight. If you are in any organisation, these are key contacts, especially if you are junior and they will act as a mentor or better still a sponsor and advocate for you.
  • Junior connections:  I love being connected to #GenY in particular. As we get older and more set in our ways we need the energy of this generation to keep us in touch. Even if you are entry-level, there will still be people behind you!
  • Peer connections : these are people doing what you do and can understand any major issues you might have. They might be good contacts to confide in, but be cautious also, you may end up competing against them for work, a contract or even a job.
  • Sector connections: I like and need to stay in touch with different sectors – specific industries and functions, coaching , sourcing, executive search and so on. This is about staying up to date
  • Geographic connections:    I work internationally, so I ask myself the question : have I got all the key contacts in specific locations that I could tap into if needed? Which area needs strengthening?
  • Connectors:  If needed, who will be my  go-to “connector”, the super networker, the person to whom I could pose the question” who do you know?”
  • Local connections:  contacts based in the places where I spend most time. There is no substitute for dealing with people face to face – especially if they are just down the road.
  • Specialists: unless we are all-singing and all-dancing, all of the time, we cannot do without the specialists whose passion and skill makes what they do invaluable. Whether this is the web designer, presentation expert, DIY fiends or even a walking restaurant directory.
  •  Information generators:  some people like to be totally up to the minute and they save us all a lot of time researching current events and developments.  Do you want to know something obscure? Then these are your go-to people.  We all need a few of those fabulous time- savers in our midst!
  • Devils advocates :   I’m very opinionated, so other great additions to my, or any network, (even if you are not) are the ones who will challenge the flaws in your argument! Definitely track down a few of those. It’s not good to surround yourself with clones of yourself.
  • Social connections: we all need to have fun and very often people we know socially have  the most surprising connections. Some are just plain likeable!

Who would you add? Let’s connect:

@DorothyDalton

Dorothy Dalton

Job search: Are you missing in action?

Off the radar

Getting on the job search radar!
I have spent the past week with two different women, of two different ages. Their backgrounds could not be further apart. One is a young graduate, seeking entry-level employment, the other a woman in her 40s, with extensive supply chain and procurement experience, as well as an MBA. She has taken an eight year parenting break, relocated internationally with her husband and is now dealing with the inevitable challenge of explaining motherhood and her CV gap.

Both want to enter the workplace. Both are struggling. Both are drifting off the job search track and are M.I.A. Despite feeling they had nothing in common, even just idle chat reveals the numerous common elements. Not only were they simply failing to get the jobs they wanted ( when they could even find a job they were interested in) they were receiving no response to their CVs, sometimes not even a rejection letter.

Back on track
All job search candidates regardless of age, gender or time in life need to have some basics in place, so here are some easy tips to get back on track:

  •  Identify and articulate transferable skills. It doesn’t matter how you do this but this is a critical exercise, taking time and thought. I repeat my mantra – if you don’t know what you’re good at, how do you expect anyone else to know? Recruiters and hiring managers are not telepathic and don’t have the time to drag it out of you.
  •  This basic but critical exercise leads to the creation of an effective mission statement and elevator sounds bites. CVs should stop disappearing into cyber space and interview performance will be strengthened. If there is any hesitation in delivering your USPs – practise and practise again!
  •   Establish and develop a professional online presence. This is vital for anyone, male or female, young or old, entry-level or transitioning. Failure to do this is tantamount to professional suicide. The entry-level woman had received no advice from her university careers advisor to create this type of profile, which in my view is a scandal in itself! Careers advisors – read my open letter! The older candidate needs to resurrect and tap into her existing network from her days as a professional woman and connect with them virtually on platforms which simply did not exist when she was in the workplace ( LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +) This small step shows you care about your professional image and that you are current in your approach. Your LinkedIn profile url can also be used in an email signature or on other online profiles as a way of extending the reach of your CV.
  •  Create a modern CV with targeted keyword usage. Their current versions are probably not getting past ATS ( Applicant Tracking Systems) or coming to the attention of recruitment sourcers. 97% of CVs, it is maintained, are not read by a human eye! Once again this could account for a failure to obtain an even a first interview.
  •  Most jobs (estimated at 85%) are not advertised. Creating a strong online presence and strengthening a personal brand will drive traffic to your professional profile. It’s no longer about looking for a job – it’s also about raising visibility to ensure you are found. Many jobs are also only advertised on LinkedIn.
  •  There is no substitute for strategic networking at any age and stage. No matter how young you are, or how long it’s been since you were in the workplace, we are all connected to someone! Have some simple, but good quality business cards printed – you never know when you need them! Connect and re-connect. Join networking groups and professional bodies especially if any membership has lapsed during a career break.
  •  Be active. Inactivity is not just a barrier to getting top jobs, it’s a barrier to getting any job! It’s also a great way to beat negative thinking, and maintaining your confidence, vital in job search. It also gives you data to monitor, from which you can make any changes to your job seeking strategy.
  •   Tweak those strategies . Don’t panic and especially don’t be afraid to change. Nothing is set in stone and what works in one set of circumstances may sink like a lead balloon in another! Be flexible

But most importantly never give up. The estimated time to get a job is reported to be on average a minimum of 7 months currently. If you carry on struggling – seek professional help. It will be worth it in the long-term!

Good luck!

What is your networking strategy score?

Strategic : Relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.

I recently ran a workshop at the JUMP Forum in Brussels on political skills and networking. There was a great and engaged turnout for what turned out to be a power workshop, because in 90 minutes I could only focus on giving a broad brush overview. However, at one point in the presentation, I did ask the delegates if anyone had come to the JUMP event with a  networking strategy, a game plan. There was an almost deafening silence and a complete stillness of hands.

No stones

I can totally relate to that, having lived at one time in something of a glass house myself , so am not going to throw any stones at anyone else! I have been a delegate at any number of conferences, where I have pitched up, sat with my friends in a few seminars, briefly talked to some distant acquaintances and even perhaps been introduced to someone new. I’ve had a glass of inferior wine, a few limp nibbles with other known associates and then headed off home until the next one. Strategic networking score = 0.

In my own defence (and everyone else’s) these events are sometimes the only places that we see some particular faces. I am also extremely social, so it’s not that I have a problem talking to strangers, it is just more comfortable to be with people I already know. Monica Stallings calls this ” multi-plex” networking and not unsurprisingly we all prefer to network in that way, although men show a greater and marked willingness to network strategically.

So, a number of people asked me after the event what they could have done differently, other than just showing up with a business card and a smile? Both are clearly valuable tools for the professional networker, but obviously the first thing with strategic networking, is to actually have a strategy! Think up a plan and set some goals!

Strategies

  •  Research the delegates and speakers in advance. Is there an event email list and can you connect with people before you get there and suggest that you meet? This saves a lot of time walking around struggling with that challenging balancing act with your coffee, canapé, conference folder and briefcase, looking completely lost. It is great for people who are nervous about going into rooms where everyone seem to know each other. It is also an opportunity to research their backgrounds, their career paths, read their blogs or check out their tweets. That one little strategy creates great ice-breaker topics for those who are more on the shy side. It also provides a good reason to interrupt a group, to ask if they know that person, rather than simply hovering on the outskirts feeling awkward. And yet again, when you’ve been cornered by someone and desperately want to move on, you can always say quite legitimately that you have promised to meet such and such a person , thus facilitating a swift, but credible, get away.
  •  Always make a point of sitting beside people you don’t know at all the sessions – see above: saves even more wandering around looking lost.
  • Set a goal of speaking to x new people during the day, or collecting a certain number of business cards. Someone gave me a great tip of wearing a jacket with one pocket for my own cards and another for newly collected cards. Note to self – don’t mix them up!
  • Write any pieces of information on the back of the card which you think might be useful for the next meeting: e.g. “ twins, ski hound, drinks like fish”. Transfer to your Outlook or other contacts data base.
  • Follow up with an email, or by connecting on a professional platform (LinkedIn, Twitter). By doing this, you connect not only with the card giver but their entire network.

What other tips can you add?

Twitter and Me – An Anniversary

Twitter

Annual review – Permit me an indulgent post!
It’s over a year since I signed up on Twitter.  Some of you may remember what a hopeless and reluctant Twitter debutante I was in my early days.  I  just didn’t get it  – at all.  Imagine I put my tweets through  spell check !   My  struggling process is well documented in my post Cynic to Convert in 10 weeks. I was an almost  total disaster and suspect that  in some areas I’m not much improved.

Twitter  now has a place  in my career transition coaching programme for job seekers and in most cases actually encounters huge resistance. A look of total blankness crosses coachees  faces and  truthfully, very few really seriously engage.  The reasons they don’t see the potential are clear. They are where I was!

Working it out
 Initially, I observed from the sidelines and saw what other people  recommended and what they did. Then very slowly I found what worked for me.   Despite all the bumpf that is written I’m still not that strategic.  Many of the big playing , hard hitters tend not to engage and that’s what I enjoy. So  although they might have a gazillion followers  and a  systematic, automatic information feed,   that is very reminiscent  of those  ” too kool for skool”  high school cliques.  If you’re not interested ,  somewhat surprisingly that actually doesn’t interest me   …..except for CNN, the Economist and President Obama,  of course.

I eventually learned to let some of the more extreme positions and outrageous views slide by without even the slightest raising  of a pulse or eyebrow. Particularly in my field in 2009 during  the worst global  recession  in recent times,  it seemed that every man, woman and dog  had a view to share on how to write a CV or get a job. Some of it was excellent,  but  some was so far off the mark to be undistinguishable from Pythonesque fantasy. Now I no longer care. If they want to advise job seekers to write a 4 page CV…  in pink,   telling everyone what their career objectives are –  go right ahead,  My ” Bothered in Brussels ” days are over. 

Eventually, I began to get the hang of it, so that it is now part of the fabric of my daily life.  I read about people trying to detox.  Are they kidding ?  Really there is no 12 step programme that would interest me.

Benefits
So what are the benefits for me? I’m not going to name names for fear of leaving someone out. You  all know who you are!  Well you should!

  •  Global connections : I have connected with people  globally whose paths  I would never have crossed   – ever , in the normal course of my daily life  – professional or personal. Their stories, skills, areas of expertise , energy and willingness to share have been humbling and informative.
  •  Community : These on-line connections  have become actual connections and in a strange way, perhaps as early adopters/adapters I find they understand  more about what I do ,  than my immediate circle  of  friends and family. I have a whole new range of mentors, sounding boards, muses,  professional contacts and people who are just fun to be around.
  • Embracing change: Early adapters don’t care about taking risks, they don’t need to understand everything they do or fully compute the consequences. They just do it. They write blogs, produce You Tube videos,  create radio shows,  host webinars. The energy is fantastic. Do people off Twitter do this? Of course , I’m sure they do – but I don’t know them.
  • Information:  I stand  by what I originally said  that it’s the sharing of distilled information that is hugely beneficial. I don’t want to be too effusive about the time they save me in case they send me a bill. How do I know they’re picking out the right stuff? I just do!   
  • Intellectual stimulation:  there is something very stimulating about being part of  group of people who feel comfortable  with what they don’t know and are not intimdiated by it. It is a black hole learning experience and  not only are we all in it – but we all enjoy it.  
  • It’s democratic: there are no barriers to entry and I might exchange  communication with world renown biz gurus, philosophers, philanthropists,  successful authors, olympic athletes, stay at home Mums, coaches, recruiters , surfer dudes,  antiopodean gardeners or teenage insomniacs –  plus any number of categories I haven’t mentioned.   
  • Content counts: what is good is recognised and shared. Credit is given where it’s due. Plagiarism is outlawed.
  • There is a code of conduct:  poor behaviour is unacceptable and dealt with pretty summarily.  
  • The speed: of the  passage of information is phenomenal. I am frequently asked how I know about something so quickly or early and it quite often via Twitter. It is a powerful  global communication tool not to be under estimated. News channels and their anchor people now refer regularly to their Twitter accounts.  
  • It is affirmative:  feedback is always constructive and positive contributions are generously endorsed.
  • Business  – of course. Everyone’s visibility is raised.

The future?

So where will it all lead to? I’m not sure if  it’s a coincidence that the massive increase in the popularity of Twitter ( which has now stabilised)  occurred during a major recession. Did people have more time? Did they feel the need to try something new?   Did they feel the need to reach out? The answer is I don’t know, but it will be interesting to see as economic activities level out whether  people will engage to the same extent and what the next 12 months hold! Will I still have to defend my Twitter presence at dinner parties in  2011?

Only one way to find out!  See you next year!

But what about you?