For the past couple of years I have been speaking to groups about how to use social media for networking, job search and business development. As an early adopter of LinkedIn, and also as someone who has had to rely upon networking to assist me with my work, it has become natural to speak about the value of networking and about the things I have learned that are necessary to be successful at networking using social media. I have enjoyed presenting on this subject because it has been a good diversion from a total focus on HR.
Recently, I have had some experiences related to using social media that I think are fruitful to share. One experience relates to using Twitter, the other relates to blogging.
This winter, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce put me together with two women who are truly experts in the social media field, Sherri Rossi and Joan Mizzi-Fry. We didn’t know each other initially, but we had a lot of success collaborating and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of creating a three-part perspective on social media.
Sherri Rossi is a Twitter expert. She is involved with a company called Findability Solutions, and they focus on search engine optimization. In order to build their business and also the business of their clients, she uses Twitter to communicate. Before I met Sherri, I was definitely a naysayer about using Twitter. Even after Sherri’s training, I’m not convinced it is a great medium for business-to-business relationship building, but I haven’t given up yet, because the more I play with it, the more I’m learning about the physical act of cyber connecting.
There aren’t many people I know personally who Twitter, so I’ll start with a brief explanation. Twitter is about finding people you want to follow, making statements about what’s happening, forwarding (retweeting) comments made by others that are interesting (called shout-outs or mentions), and participating in subjects of mutual interest with people you probably don’t know. It’s quick, it’s fun, and because it is so amateurish, it is highly forgiving. The strength of Twitter is the level of familiarity you can build with someone quickly through an on-line medium. If you are quick and pithy in writing, you’ll probably have good success on Twitter.
One major weakness of Twitter is how quickly your message can get crowded and/or forgotten on Twitter. If you follow a lot of people (or a lot of people who follow you also follow a lot of people) you can get lost in the feed in under 10 minutes. If you didn’t use names or hashtags, then there’s a chance that the person you were trying to reach completely lost you.
When I first started on Twitter, I used Sherri’s expertise as a former HR professional to help locate people I wanted to follow, and then learned to use hashtags (e.g. #) to find subjects where I could find individuals who were writing about subjects of interest. I believe another value of Twitter for me has to do with the potential for getting the word out about my blog, and it has also been helpful for me in finding other people who blog about things that may be HR-related. In truth, I had no idea how many blogs there were out there, and how interesting I would find some of them.
One of the first people I started following on Twitter was Joan Ginsberg. Joan is a SPHR and a lawyer, and I was intrigued by her profile as she gives me the impression that we have a lot in common from the perspective of life experiences. She makes interesting “what’s happening” posts.
Finding Joan Ginsberg in cyberspace brings me to the other experience—blogging. In a recent blog, she highlighted an issue that I’ve struggled with all along in trying to blog—mixing personal and business. She wrote, “When I started blogging, I was really fearful about mixing personal and business, HR and handicap parking. I was worried that no one would read what I wrote, because I was either not serious about cutting edge HR, or I was boring those people who don’t give a crap. So I started two blogs, one for personal musings and one for HR/business. I wasn’t happy with this format though until I watched (this video of Seth Godin and Tom Peters on blogging (words added)). I’m not worried anymore. Like the quote says, I am old enough not to care. So, this is my “new” blog – which just combines what I liked best of both. HR University is closed; now I’m Just Joan.”
With regards to being an HR blogger in Canada, I do believe it is more complicated than if I were living and working solely in the U.S. After all, if you are a CHRP, there is a more stringent code of ethics you must abide by. As much as I would like to write about the same subjects as PunkrockHR (it is a great blog to read, and she’ll make you think and laugh), there are underlying pressures to keep a certain decorum here. In my personal life, my husband is concerned about both privacy and safety, so I have to limit what I write to things that are appropriate for public consumption. In some ways, I am realizing that one of the reasons why I think I write about experiences with my dog Daphne is that she has no expectation of privacy, and she adores the limelight. I also have to balance the risk of revealing information which might lead to hacking or stalking with writing enough to give my blogs a personal touch.
The benefit of blogging is that my life is so much richer by having someone connect with me to say, “You feel that way, wow, I never thought anyone else felt the same way”. My hope is that this will open up a dialogue and I will meet new friends.
What is your take on all of this? I would love to hear from you, online or offline.
p.s. you can find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BonniToronto.