Networking, Preconceptions and the Truth
When I first started working, I was full of ideals and preconceptions about the professional world. One of those preconceptions was about Networking, as in face to face networking – social networking was still to come. You see, in my mind networking was about men in suits having free food and booze and chatting about their most expensive cars on the golf course, whilst challenging the robustness of their livers.
Now, to some extent that is actually quite accurate. However, as it turns out my preconceptions were a little harsh, but it took me a few years to really get it.
Video Games, Socialising and Free Beer
About a year after I created my games review website, Yet Another Review Site, I started getting invites to industry events and launch parties. As soon as you see the words “Free” and “Bar” in a sentence, it is pretty hard to say no. Just don’t ask my wife about the WeSing Encore launch party, ok! After I had gone to a few, I started to chat to people that I was beginning to recognise from the previous events. As we talked, we began to form ideas and build relationships. Those relationships opened doors to new people I had not previously had access to and so it continued. In very little time, from these face-to-face drinking sessions and parties, I began to build a group of like-minded people who all were willing to help each other. I had in essence, built a network – I was networking and hadn’t really cottoned on to it!
The dawn of Social Networking on the Web
As the likes of Facebook and Twitter began to really take a grip of the world, this kind of networking began to spill out into the virtual world. The difference here was that you had access to a much vaster population of like-minded people; you just had to look in the right places or say the right things to be noticed by them or to find them. The number of great contacts I have made from Twitter, from totally non subject matter related conversations, has staggered me. I would never have met the likes of Andy Payne (OBE), Chairman of UKIE. Never would Dina Meyer have made my day with a daft response to a daft comment. Hell, the Hoff would never have followed me!
Saul Fleischman, a well Connected Individual
I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought I had finally got networking. Enter a lovely guy buy the name of Saul Fleischman. He offered me the chance to be a guest on his blog, writing about Gamification. He explained that he had quite a good reach in the social world. He was in business of connecting people. I was intrigued, if a little sceptical. Anyway, he reached out to my via Skype to have a proper chat (still can’t beat chatting properly!). After about an hour or so, I began to realise there may be more to what he was saying than I had originally given him credit for. I agreed to do the post and got on with my day.
The Joy of Guest Blogging
It came to the publishing date of the post being released into the wild and my God – turned out I knew nothing about social networking!
My twitter was set ablaze with people tweeting and retweeting the post. Using the likes of Triberr and other organic methods, word spread fast. Retweets of retweets began to fill my mentions list. More could be found if I searched Twitter for the name of the post (Gamification: Motivation and Engagement). Saul had told me that I should try to publically thank the organic tweets and the retweets, so as I could I began to thank people, but they just kept coming. From 2am that morning until around 10am the next day, this article was still being tweeted, Google Plus’d and Facebooked at a decent rate.
Being Polite and Engaging
In that time, I tried to thank everyone. I tried to engage with the people who looked like they had similar interests to me. I kept an eye on the comments on the actual blog and if I am honest, I had a great time just connecting with these amazing people that had been sent my way.
In the end, I have been left with some very interesting fallout. I have quite a lot of new followers and connections in my social networking spaces. I have more traffic to my actual blog than before. I also have a much better understanding and appreciation of just how complex doing social networking properly really is. It is hard work.
Social Networking is Hard Work
So, if you take anything away from this post let it be these things.
1. Networking is very, very important. If you don’t know the right people, how do you expect to find the right answers or the right opportunities.
2. If someone is talking about being a social networking manager or a community manager, spare a thought. It is not as easy as just sitting watching twitter all day. It is actually bloody hard work! ;-)