Twitter's terrific: it's the blue Smartie in the bowl that can have you buzzing like a three year old on Boxing Day. And blogs are brilliant: I do like to read one or two others' for the odd pearl, but it's best when mine gets retweeted to a few thousand and does the rounds for a day or two. That happens nearly every time. I've also had acerbic and witty remarks retweeted by footballer Gary Lineker, Paul Mason of Newsnight and India Knight from The Times. How eclectic is that? Like mulled wine on a cold day, their love leaves a warm glow.
Back in the days when spam was pink canned meat you could see a jaunty envelope appearing in your "In Tray" if you stared long enough at the top left of the screen. It was an event. The cascade of tweets that roll in are today's equivalent, but Twitter responses direct to you from the ether are the catnip that makes it all really worthwhile.
But are they? Is it? Many of the things one does in the privacy of the hotel room, or during the day in an empty house, are bound to be a bit solitary and unappealing to the wider world. Some of them we would never pretend are useful business development practices. And others? Well... my own guilty daytime pleasure, at any rate the one I am sharing before the watershed, is Bargain Hunt. And at breakfast today it was the third test at Eden Gardens in India. Jimmy Anderson was on fire.
But there's more: Do we pretend to ourselves that we are doing "business development" online when we are really just lobbing a pebble into the ocean and seeing what happens? It will not be much, as most tweets are not read. I have recently been followed by Mobile TV and PC Reviews, St Lawrence Alliance and Export To Sweden. I'm pretty sure there are a few restaurants on the west coast of the US in there too: they do nice lobster, apparently.
Don't misunderstand, I love that the last four tweets are Lorraine Kelly (fellow Dundee United fan and telly lady), John Rentoul (journo at The Independent), Grant Shapps (Tory MP, not always called Grant Schapps), and Brian Moore (ex hooker, in the rugby union sense). I love that I get much of my news from Twitter and it comes faster than anything else; the New Statesman gives me ten must read articles every morning and The Times, The Guardian and Time magazine are spot-on. It's also worth using the tools available to send great stuff from other sources as a means of spreading knowledge and promoting your brand to your followers. You are what you tweet.
But don't pretend it's networking; it's only useful business development at a stretch. Or more accurately as part of a strategy.
I'm not saying you can't get business from social media and it's important to take it seriously as part of your marketing and branding. You need to be in the social media game and should, as a minimum, have a good Linked In profile and know what's what.
But if you are in a business that requires the building of long term relationships, social media is no more the answer than is any other form of marketing. They all matter, for sure, but you really need to go out there and get busy, because networking is not really back: it's never been away. Tweet, tweet and blog, blog as much as you fancy. But business, my friends out there in the big-wired-world, is still done face to face.
It's important to know that Gary, Paul and India, smashing people all, are not my friends and are not part of my network. They never will be. There are others who may be on my radar proper, but I can tell you I'll be meeting them as well as messaging them.
So shine the shoes, fix that hair, get the lippy on, smell nice, be curious, smile, listen, share interesting vignettes, don't be a stalker, don't talk about work, don't get hammered... and be sure to follow up!
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about the author
Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.