I was thrilled to see one of my all-time-favorite college interns, Amanda Mooney, quoted in the current Business Week cover story: Beyond Blogs; what business needs to know about social media.
As I finished the piece, I thought “Not bad, but if they really want to illustrate social media for their readership, BW should have just profiled the last two weeks, or years, of Amanda’s on-line life.” Even the limited highlights I know would have illustrated the power and reach of social media better than a traditional survey story. (Briefly, it’s a tale of how to parlay social media to get you from Hampden, Maine to a job on Madison Avenue–long play version at end of this post.)
But then I thought–Amanda is 23 years old. The typical BW reader would easily dismiss Amanda’s experiences as irrelevant to their own forty-something business life. So I started cataloging the impact of social media, in the month of May, in a certain forty-something’s business life. Not just my own use of social media, but that of my colleagues and friends, who don’t necessarily aspire to guru status in social media, yet are gravitating there in really interesting ways. Here are a few examples:
- I was contacted on LinkedIn by a man who was looking to recruit a social media exec to his start-up. I wanted to help him network, we shared a cold one and a chat on a particularly spectacular Boston May afternoon, hit it off, and he made a couple of helpful introductions for me. One of which may lead to an investment in my company. This all due to my tagging my LinkedIn profile with a couple of relevant keywords, and his openness to finding strangers on the platform.
- I’ve had two recent meetings with new people where the person (again, deeply experienced exec types) worried out loud that I could track their exact behavior in reading my blog. (I can’t–WordPress stats are pretty aggregated and don’t always add up to make sense anyway.) It was interesting to me that these people were innocent enough to trawl my blog without thinking about reporting, but then sophisticated enough to have morning-after worries. (Will she think I was stalking her?) It was charming, for me, as a narcissistic blog-writer.
- I helped a couple college kids get summer internships by finding opportunities on a Yahoo group for startups.
- I had a couple interesting introductions this month from a marketing maven man I met on a Yahoo group last year. I had noticed all these terribly smart and helpful answers to business questions posted by a Mike Volpe of HubSpot. I checked out his business, kept seeing the answers rolling in, and contacted him with a message that was something like “I have no big agenda–I just want to meet you.” We’ve stayed in touch–although never once seen each other again in person–and he keeps referring really great people to me. (And I keep championing his business too.)
- I intermittently follow a Twitter “celeb” named Pistachio who uses the platform to advance her business, which she describes as “Making Power Points Suck Less”. She’s funny, prolific, and irreverent. One recent day, Pistachio Tweeted about coming back from a weekend away knowing her husband was moving out. I sent her a private “buck up” message, thinking, “this woman is a Twitter star–she sure as heck does not need a message from me, a virtual stranger.” Fast forward a week and I meet her–for real–at the DEMO cocktail party. “You’re Pistachio?? Really?” (And I’m thinking…I’m so excited, but how did I become a groupie of a woman who does Power Points for a living, and I hope she doesn’t think I am a dweeb.) We chat–she’s even funnier in person–and I am secretly delighted to learn that although her Twitter-heavy life has brought her hundreds of new friends, she “only has four or five friends in Boston.” I think–maybe I have a chance to be her pal!
- The Nantucket Conference created a LinkedIn group before the event, which provided a great way to warm up to the always-slightly-intimidating prospect of meeting a lot of strangers in a fairly intimate setting. One VC LinkedIn to me ahead of the event and I was definitely more positively inclined to work with him than I’d otherwise have been.
- I was video-interviewed on Nantucket (I really liked that, Sim, the interviewer, used one of those uber-simple Sony Flip cameras–I’m convinced “simple” is the number one consumer product strategic tool these days) and found the piece hosted on YouTube. A first for me.
- I am discovering a bunch of new blogs because of the new Sphere integration on WordPress. This is a deal where Sphere pulls in three relevant posts from other blogs or traditional media at the bottom of a post. So, if I write about, say, Granny Smith apples, WordPress, through the invisible hand of Sphere, links to three other writers’ work on the topic–which appear at the bottom of my post. I really like following those inbound and outbound links, even though they usually lead to really strange blogs.
- Jeff Yolen, a dynamic exec from Sphere, became an advisor to my biz Daily Grommet. We met at Nantucket, but he’d already had plenty of time to check out my credentials beforehand. This blog has increasingly become my resume. I bet Jeff has never even seen my real resume.
- My business pals are increasingly posting Facebook status updates. They don’t tend to be people I’ve known the longest, but I am feeling surprisingly connected to them because of this window into their fascinating existences. I am slightly, ever so slightly, feeling less connected to people who aren’t on this media.
- So, in this vein, I recently sent two virtual gifts to Facebook friends. Spending $1 to send nothing but pixels was an inconceivably lame and pitiful activity, in my mind, 18 months ago. Now I love it. So Frank got a bowl of chicken soup because he posted about being under the weather two days in a row. I would never “in real life” have called Frank up, or brought him a bowl of soup because he was sick. I like Frank very much, but that would be just too much. Enter Facebook virtual gifts. Same thing in sending a bottle of champagne to Gill because she got her green card. I loved knowing she got it, and, in my own tiny way, helping her celebrate.