Monday Jun 29, 2009

Blogging, networking and sneezing in Amsterdam



I had the opportunity to chair the Marcus Evans Social Media conference a couple of weeks ago, albeit with a particularly nasty cold that caused me to occasionally lose my voice. The session was located in Amsterdam, convenient because I was visiting my daughter in London for the month of June. This is the fourth time I've chaired or participated in European communication conferences, and I always walk away smarter for the experience.

It's far too easy to end up U.S.-centric when working for a California-based company, even a global one like Sun. Spending three days with new colleagues from other countries helps me to reshape my perspective and learn new ideas.

What I found really interesting at this particular conference was that participants ranged from those involved in very sophisticated social media to those who were contemplating taking their first baby steps. And because participants came from different industries, we could have really meaningful conversations about how networking plays out in one culture versus another.

I admit it - just when I think there's not much more to say on the subject, I find there is.

So the tipping point is rapidly approaching on a global scale, where employees around the world, regardless of what their company is doing in social media, will be using these technologies to connect. Case in point: a company who has blocked Facebook from work has employees actively and enthusiastically engaged in that social networking site - they are simply using their smart phones instead of their company laptops or workstations (and duh, yes, during business hours). In other words, the revolution has happened already, so it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of how companies will adapt to this brave new world.

I started off on Facebook and LinkedIn maybe two or three years ago, just as an experiment. I've been shocked at how much a part of my life these networks have become, for both work and personal connections. And how much of a drag email is by comparison.

So consider this: Instead of buying CDs, I pay for and download music to my laptop and iPod. Instead of buying physical books, I pay for and download e-books to my Kindle. Instead of paying the phone company an outrageous amount of money to stay in touch with my friends and relatives outside of the U.S., I pay for and use Skype (so I can make "free" international calls as well as connect via laptops) to do as much talking as I want.

And I'm not a youngster (much as I hate to admit it). But the value these technologies represent is high enough that it's well worth the learning curve - which fortunately is really pretty darn low.

The icing of the cake for me is being featured on a new blog - Shoe's Talk, written by the witty and quite charming Medard Schoenmaeckers in Basel, Switzerland. (By the way, the URL is http://shoestalk.mypodcast.com/2009/06/Is_your_company_blogging-215791.html, in case my link isn't working - so much for low learning curves!) Medard also spoke at the Amsterdam conference and I was flattered to be interviewed by him for his first podcast. I think we both sound brilliant, don't you??


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