I’m almost done with the next chapter of the ebook. Need to do one more revision and then I’ll post it up here. Been a little bogged down with work, so my apologies if the blog is looking a little stale of late.
Several people have expressed annoyance at the lengthy delay since the last post. My apologies. Flu plus a heavy workload do not lend themselves to frequent blogging.
People my age (tail end of Gen-X) came of age at an interesting junction in history. My parents grew up in a world where the accepted way to get ahead in life was to get a university degree, join a big firm, and then steadily work one’s way up the corporate ladder; retirement being funded by company pension plans, subsidized by government pensions that actually were worth something.
Something funny happened along the way.
Lifelong employment – actually any kind of employment – became passe. Instead, people somehow make their way essentially as free agents, passing time from job to job, hopefully surviving the intermediary periods of unemployment, eking out what living they may – and – with a great deal of luck – scratching together enough savings to (marginally) survive retirement.
After being laid off from a programming job during the last recession, enduring a year of unemployment, building a company with friends (5 years of blood sweat and tears), leaving it, being laid off again in the current recession, building a new company from scratch: I’ve come to the understanding that a) it is more risky for me to be employed by somebody than it is to be an entrepreneur, and b) I really wish that I had known more about business to start off with in the first place.
Pretty much everything I have learned about: running a business, marketing, sales, product development, managing people, collecting outstanding money from customers, balancing the books, finishing projects, handling troublesome clients – I have learned the hard way, by making horrible mistakes.
I sincerely hope that the example I set my (future) children will be different. I want them to learn financial literacy (not through crushing debt the way I learned it). I want them to learn entrepreneurship through example (not by last resort when chronically underemployed). I want them to be able to leverage off of my network of friends and business parters, the angel investors that I know, the worldly mentors I have met and befriended.
My children will do it differently.
Facebook was the first social media site that I started using. I used to be stuck in the mindset that social media was a complete waste of time, and I actively avoided creating profiles online for years. These days, social media forms a critical part of how I market my company: a significant chunk of my business comes about via my interactions with people on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.
Initially I used Facebook primarily for looking up long lost friends – not an unusual purpose. The key site for networking purposes was always LinkedIn. I’ve come to realize though that every social media site has its own personality, and that the differences can be very useful once you recognize them.
Facebook places a higher priority than many other sites on connecting only to people that you know well. I don’t know too many “LIONS” (LinkedIn Open Networkers) on Facebook. Typically the vast majority of people in your Facebook friends list are people that you’ve met face to face. I get many requests from complete strangers on sites like MySpace, but seldom from Facebook.
The advantage of creating a network of people that you actually know (i.e. separate from a loosely linked network of people that you have just interacted with online), is that many of those people will have some existing idea of the kinds of things that you do. This means that you don’t need to explain too much in order to start utilizing that network for finding leads. It also means that the people in your friend’s list are already “rooting” for you – they’re your friends after all. If your set of friends has anything in common at all withyou (and I assume that like most people you are friendly with people that are similar to you in interests), they’ll have the right kind of connections to be able to come up with targetted sales leads.
I’m not advocating using Facebook exclusely for this purpose, or ignoring the kinds of loose networks that you probably also have on other sites. Don’t spam your friends with sales requests, and make sure that you actively reciprocate with leads in return. They’re your friend after all! Do, however, make sure that your profile accurately reflects the kind of work that you do, that your status updates indicate what you are trying to accomplish, and that you obey the Golden Rule of Networking: always give the first lead.
I discovered DandyId recently while playing around with WordPress. It’s a tool that allows you to enter in the links to many of your other social networking profiles.
I’m currently working on a book on social networking, so the number of accounts that I have has reached ridiculous proportions. I’ve seen a couple of other sites that try to tie things in together, but DandyId is the most comprehensive one I’ve seen so far.
One small hitch: its still missing about a dozen of the sites that I have accounts on.