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LinkedIn – Love it or cancel it!? Facebook – don’t know what to do with it.

October 13, 2010 2 comments

I’m in danger of becoming a bit of a Personal Network “bore”. At the moment, it is a novelty with friends and contacts to discuss the area of Personal Networking (they’ve been wondering when I would end my prolonged spell of “funemployment”) – and I’m really enthusiastic to chat!

Here are a couple of example conversations from today around social networking.

This afternoon, I chatted over a cup of tea after watching my son’s rugby match with a mum who is a professional life-coach. We both have an interest in social networking – and are connected on LinkedIn. She’s currently having a race with one of her friends to see who can reach 500 connections first! She likes LinkedIn – and uses it for

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Alumni meetings for a large company she used to work for. It’s a good way to keep in touch with her more distant network.

Then, this evening, another contact mailed me with feedback he had had from an American colleague about LinkedIn.

“I have cancelled LinkedIn because of on-line spoofing. I think that it is not a waste of time at all but the harassment is simply not worth it. All is monitored by Homeland Security here but these computer sites are being used here in the United States simply to harass people – thus destroying their networking value.”

Interesting reaction. In discussions with my friend, I compared it to someone cutting off their home phone-line 20 years ago because they got a few sales calls. The challenge is that we are in a “gold rush” in the area of social networking – and you can therefore end up in a territory with a lot of cowboys! I’d be more inclined to stick with it and find ways of avoiding the cowboys.

The two examples above – show the diverse reactions to LinkedIn (race to the top … or press the cancel button!).

I am facing a challenge at the moment – what to do about my Facebook account? As you will have read in earlier blogs, I use it mainly to keep an eye on what my children are up to!

Yesterday, in a quiet moment, I thought I would have a play and tweak some Facebook settings. I made my Birthday private – it’s not that I’m worried about my age, but (as a Brit) I find birthday greetings from distant contacts a bit strange. Also, I thought I would follow Mitch Joel’s advice and have a consistent photo in all social media. No sooner had I done this – than my sister (who I don’t see enough of) had written on my wall “Wow! Distinguished new profile pic! xx”. It was nice that she’d “pinged” me – but embarrassing that I’d tried to change to a “corporate” look in her space!

Anyway, I reverted to being Facebooky – and have now changed to a picture of me and my sister as kids on the beach!!

Do I close it down, lighten up – or have different Facebook pages for Phil the human and Phil the entrepreneur??

Decisions, decisions….

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Penpals & Pensioners

September 19, 2010 1 comment

Starting a new venture around Personal Networks has been a topic of conversation around the family dinner table. Our children (aged 11 & 12) are fascinated by mum and dad considering working again – after nearly 5 years of being “funemployed”. Also, we met up with with Carrie’s parents this week for supper – and they wanted to hear all about what we planned to be doing.

Somehow, during our discussions of Personal Networks with the children, we got onto the subject of how we kept in touch with friends when we were younger. We did a little comparison of our children’s Facebook activities and “friends” (yes, I know strictly they are too young!) – and our mates

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growing up in the 70s & 80s. Comparisons were….

* We both have/had roughly the same number of close friends that we chat to/hang out with every day. 4-8 seems a good figure on this.
* Mum & Dad did know people around the school, activities, etc – but just really knew their names. Millie has 247 Friends on Facebook & Joe has 319! Our children (and their Facebook Friends) seem to be like impassioned football sticker collectors. These seem to still come from the same base of school and activities – but their stretch through the age groups is interesting. Was there anything quite like this in our generation?
* The kids couldn’t understand the idea of Penpals (for the younger readers of this blog – penpals were children of similar age abroad that kids of my generation exchanged letters with Also, see Wikipedia’s overview.). The concept of writing long letters (often practicing your feeble skills in another language), sending this by post – and then waiting some weeks for a reply was very difficult for Millie and Joe to understand. I know that my sister (now 50) still has a couple of Penpals that she keep in contact – and has in fact visited in USA & Austria. Who will be this generation’s penpals?

Our children have amazing tools available to access and communicate with a wide range of people. It will be intriguing to see whether they will be traveling around the world when they are 50 meeting their Facebook friends?

Supper with Carrie’s parents was an eye opener. No need to explain to an older generation the benefits and value of a Personal Network. Gerry was a bank manager before he retired – and a network was important to him to support his working life. He joined (and actively participated) in traditional networking groups like RoundTable and Rotary. Also, Marina had to use her networking skills to “settle in the family” as Gerry was moved around to different branches with his job.

The most interesting part of the discussion for me was to understand the challenges faced by pensioners as their Personal Network dwindles. While Millie & Joe race up the league table of Facebook Friends – sadly, Gerry and Marina see their network reduce as age takes its toll. Also, the traditional “networking” methods of their generation (meeting up face-to-face and spending time together) – still further reduce the opportunity to be in touch/communicate as mobility/routine get in the way. Gerry and Marina do a great job of maintaining links with their network – in fact this year they have made a resolution to meet up with an old friend that they’ve not seen in ages at least once a month. However, they both see that the tools that Millie and Joe use on Facebook (status updates, short bursts of chat, passing on bits of info, etc) – would be great for pensioners of their generation who suffer isolation and loneliness.

Keeping in touch, building a Personal Network, choosing the right form of communication are all challenges – no matter what generation. Finally, please take the time to read this blog post on Wired – it’s a sad account of when the use of modern communication with a close friend misses the mark!

Holiday Reading, Tom Peters and the Cheshire Cat

August 25, 2010 3 comments

I am off on holiday in the morning – and I’m going to split my reading time between finishing off my current Personal Network book – “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith (I can hear you fellow bloggers saying “I can’t believe you’ve not read that already!”), digging in to a “leisure” read by one of my favourite authors, Michael Dobbs (his new book – “The Reluctant Hero”) – and using Tom Peters “The Brand You” as a workbook to help set my personal objectives.

If you’ve not tried “The Brand You” book by Tom Peters – it’s a brilliant read. Mick Cope (whose book “Personal Networking” I reviewed in an earlier blog post) recommended the book to me. Mick said: “I have always loved the Brand You stuff by Tom Peters – which although was picked up by

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some people – never really found its mark.” After ordering a copy (it’s a classic from 1999 – but not too hard to find) I read it within 48 hours. I have always liked the passion of Tom Peters. I remember during tricky times in my business during the early 1990s playing the audio tape of “Thriving on Chaos” over and over in car as I tried to work my way through the development/growing pains of my company. I have no less enthusiasm for Tom’s work revisiting his teachings some 20 years on.

On the inside cover of the book, he lists his key ideas around Brand You – which he expands through the book. I will certainly be spending time deliberating on many of these ideas and questions:-

* “Routinely asks the Question: WHO AM I?/WHAT DO I WANT TO BE?” – Very relevant after 4 years being “funemployed”
* “Pursues Mastery of something!” Can I really become a Master of Personal Networks – and can I use this Mastery to help others?
* “Selects Clients v-e-r-y carefully/Rejects Clients who are a bad match” Cool discipline to have … and I have no excuse because I don’t need the work. Nice position to be in – but don’t cock up and get distracted by wanting to be all things to all men….
* “Is a Rolodex Maniac/Networks like Crazy!” Well you can tell this is a 1999 book (no mention of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). Glad he really values the role of Personal Networks in success.
* “Is a ‘Renewal Fanatic’/Cultivates curiosity/Takes every opportunity to learn s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g new!” I love change – and I’m enthused by learning about Personal Networks. How to I keep this curiosity focussed?

So, a time to review with some good books. I think the three key areas that I need to investigate to help understand my Personal Network journey are:-

* Personal Branding. As Tom puts it “Your are the CEO of your Life” – so I’d best understand and be able to present my “brand”
* Social Networking. It’s the buzz of the moment – and I love the digital age – but how does this fit in to Personal Networks? I believe it’s a smaller, and less important, part of our life than people currently think.
* Personal Objectives. Where do I want to go? Otherwise, all other things don’t have a focus or fall in to place. The Cheshire Cat expresses this best in Alice in Wonderland:-

“Which road do I take?” (Alice)
“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.”
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” (Cheshire Cat)

Holiday reading will be a lot less testing than the questions… Who I Am – and Where do I Want to Go!

Judged by the Company You Keep

There’s a great post on Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation today entitled “The Next Big Think On-Line could well be Anonymity”.

It got me thinking about (and researching a little) the idea that you are “Judged by the Company You Keep”. WikiAnswers tells me that “This comment is known as early as 1541 in an Old English form. In 1591 is appears as ‘if a man can be known as nothing else, then he may be known by his companions’. In 1912 it is quoted as we know it today, by Saki, in the Chronicles of Clovis.” Ralph Waldo Emerson says similar “Show me who a man’s friends are and I will tell you who he is.”

I’ve tried to approach this is a simple way on LinkedIn – I have turned my connections to “Your connections are not allowed

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to view your connections list.” It’s not that I don’t like my connections (I personally know them all!) – but the on-line crowd for someone my age (47) and British (not as web-friendly/gregarious as our North American friends) – is a little eclectic. If you took ALL “the company I keep” – I’d be pretty happy at you judging me in the round. I’d think that around 5% of the people I know are connected to me via LinkedIn.

I suspect readers of this blog are less of the younger, “Facebook crowd” – and more looking to examine and extend their Personal Networks. In building and developing your Personal Network – it’s important to consider the effect the “company you keep” has on your personal brand. Don’t try to be someone you are not – but remember your Personal Network (company you keep) is a significant indication of this. Make sure that your “public’ presence (especially on-line in this day and age) is a fair reflection of who you are.

Love is the Killer App – Tim Sanders – Book Review & Mind Map

July 14, 2010 1 comment

You will have seen earlier in the blog that Tim Sanders kindly let me quote a passage from his blog – SandersSays His reply to my request was very much in character: “Love it, Phil!  You have my permission – thanks for sharing the Love.”

Well, I thought that with such a positive reply – I should read the 2002 First Edition copy of his book that I’d found second hand on Amazon … and make it my first book review on the blog.  Here goes…

The book was read in one session (on a nice sunny day in the garden!).  The “Knowledge” and “Network” sections are a particularly

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good read.  One of the lessons learnt from the book was that if you are going to read a book – take some serious notes and note down at the end what you think the Big Thought was from the book.

I’ve never been a great note taker – but thought I would try to Mind Map the book with the software that I am keeping my “Personal Network” Network up to date on – MindMeister.  Take a look at the MindMap of Tim’s Book – I’d be interested to see if this is helpful to others?

The three elements that I took from the book were:-

* In the business world it can be a very successful strategy to be generous and giving. He has a great mantra – NSPS “Nice, smart people succeed.”
* An important tool in this giving process is sharing knowledge with your friends and contacts. Tim has an excellent perspective on books which I will share later.
* A healthy network is “fed” by you making connections through giving & sharing your knowledge with others.

The book is a useful source if you are looking for some ideas on business reading. Although the book is now a little dated (published first in 2002) – I suspect that the references are still very relevant to business today. Take a look at the MindMap – there’s lots of references to Tim’s favorite books throughout. Certainly, Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” is next on my reading pile (and that’s mentioned frequently),

Tim emphasises the positive aspects for you and your network in giving and sharing ideas.  He puts forward that you should be the hunter/gatherer of information for your network.  He also sees that through this knowledge base you should evangelise about new ideas.  It’s an interesting concept – and Tim seems to have a humble approach to this (it’s know that he knows it all – he just knows a new idea through a book he has read by someone else.)

This theory will appeal to those with a thirst for knowledge (I’d count myself amongst these folk).  It also gives you a positive application for that knowledge by giving to your network selflessly.  Tim has a cool way of working out what he reads (he use the analogy for dining) with Magazine Articles – Between-meal snacks, News Media (electronic or print) – Candy & Soda, fun to eat, but hardly appropriate to live on and (his favourite!) Books – the complete thought meal.  It’s changed my perspective – and when you think that the other lighter meals are shoveled with those nasty additives (advertising!), you can see why books get a big thumbs up.

I liked the section on Networks.  I share the desire to impart information to others – and he talks well about fusing connections with this.  It’s also not a cynical view of giving in order to receive back (either payment as a broker – or expectation of a favour in return).  Interestingly he illustrates through personal examples how at the edges this can go wrong (when people he introduce cut him out of a deal) and when it goes right (when a contact – out of the blue – gives him share in his company that floats).

My British reserve makes me cringe slightly through the final “Compassion” section.  I’m not the huggy/touchy feely type – so this is a little lost on me.  Maybe if I meet Tim at some point and he gives me a hug I will understand the “Love”.

In summary, on my journey exploring personal networks, this is a fantastic book that helps you to understand the principle of giving generously to feed a network and applying yourself to gaining knowledge to to have something relevant to offer to your network.  I like the core principle of selflessness in that giving (very much like Keith Ferrazzi’s not keeping score in my earlier blog.)  I would also say, that personally, Tim’s tips on encoding and processing books are excellent – and will be in my blogging/networking toolkit from now on.

Great book – “Loved it!”.  Thank you, Tim.

Reading List – the research so far … and the summer reading shelf

As mentioned,  I have been running up my Amazon bill doing this Personal Network research.  See the picture of my Personal Network bookshelf…..

I’ve created a list on my LinkedIn Profile – http://uk.linkedin.com/in/philobr.  I would be interested

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if you have any other suggestions. List – as of this evening – is below.  I need to get reading….

Profit Power Economics: A New Competitive Strategy for Creating Sustainable Wealth

by Mia de Kuijper

See this book on Amazon »

Phil has read this book

Recommended

Comment: “Mia actually signed the book for me – I’d gone to shelter from the rain in Waterstones at the back of the LSE … and I could not resist. Fascinating read – especially if you transpose her thoughts on power nodes as the business units of the future …. to individuals. One day, I will be a power node…..”

Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust

by Chris Brogan, Julien Smith

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “Bought, on the shelf … and soon to be read!”

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

by Malcolm Gladwell

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “In my bag for reading on holiday. Will do a short review soon. I found an extract on Malcolm’s blog – and he kindly game me permission to use on my blog. Nice guy.”

The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content.

by Timothy Ferriss

See this book on Amazon »

Phil has read this book

Recommended

Comment: “I’ve read it – I got my wife to read it … and I’m going to send a copy to a few friends. Tim does a great job on getting you focussed on what is important in life. thought provoking….”

Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd

by Youngme Moon

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “On the shelf – and will be read soon!”

Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone.

by Mitch Joel

See this book on Amazon »

Phil has read this book

Recommended

Comment: “Would thoroughly recommend this book. Mitch Joel is one of the ever increasing band of Canadians setting the digital networking and blogging world on fire. This book got me over the line to create my blog – and is a great read.”

Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success–and Won’t Let You Fail

by Keith Ferrazzi

See this book on Amazon »

Phil is reading this book

Comment: “This is on my summer list – and I’m about 1/3rd of the way through. I do like that even though Keith is obviously a confident guy – he will share how he has got things wrong and helps others to learn through the occasional failure. More soon….”

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time

by Keith Ferrazzi, Tahl Raz

See this book on Amazon »

Phil has read this book

Recommended

Comment: “Keith Ferrazzi is a leader in the world of networking. This books gives a great overview for anyone who wants to improve their networking skills. It’s a little “american” for a Brit like myself … we are a pretty reserved race. However, the principles and tips are excellent – and the principles sound. “

Six Degrees of Connection: How to Unlock Your Leadership Potential (Volume 1)

by Liz Dow

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “I’ve bought this – and had a quick skim. I am going to read after the “Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell – which this book and Liz’s work was inspired by.”

Brilliant Networking: What the Best Networkers Know, Do, and Say

by Steven D’Souza

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “Brilliant (BRIGHT) cover – and an amazing quote/speech from Robert Muller of the UN in the intro/preface. On the reading list for the summer”

Personal Networking: How to Make Your Connections Count

by Mick Cope

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “Bought from amazon – and on the reading list. I like the FT business books – I used one of these books (on Business Plans) as a reference throughout my business life. Looking forward to reading.”

Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications (Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences)

by Stanley Wasserman, Katherine Faust

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “Now – we are talking SERIOUS book here. Dan (my technical partner) and myself are battling for who reads this one first. I was attracted by the fact the book series was edited by Mark Granovetter (who developed the idea of “strength in weak ties” in the 70s). Will be a challenge to read … with my little brain…!”

How Many Friends Does One Person Need?: Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks

by Robin Dunbar

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “I’d read about the principle that you should have/only need 150 friends/contacts. Research lead me to Robin Dunbar (this is called the Dunbar Number). In the bag to be read this summer.”

Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (Open Market Edition)

by Duncan J. Watts

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “On my reading list – and on the shelf. Will get read this summer.”

Connected

by Christakis, Nicholas A., Fowler, James H.

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “This is waiting to be read on my shelf. Flick through says that it’s going to be a great resource to understand about visualising Personal Networks.”

Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do

by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi

See this book on Amazon »

Phil wants to read this book

Comment: “The follow up to “Linked” – on my shelf and ready to be read this summer.”

Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means

by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi

See this book on Amazon »

Phil has read this book

Recommended

Comment: “This is the very best book to give an overview of how similar our personal networks are to other networks (all the way down to chemical protein!!). He guides you through with anecdotes and thorough research. A copy should be on the shelf of anyone serious about networking.”

Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends

by Tim Sanders

See this book on Amazon »

Phil has read this book

Recommended

Comment: “Really enjoyable – and quick – read. Love his principle of being so positive in the business environment. I share his views on focussing on giving/doing the right thing … but as a Brit, not sure about all the hugging!! Buy and give your nice side a run out at work….”

Networking Like a Pro: Turning Contacts into Connections (Paperback)

by Ivan Misner (Author)David Alexander (Author) Brian Hilliard (Author)

See this book on Amazon »

Phil has read this book

Recommended

Comment: “This is a very good book to give you a view of the process of networking. Ivan Misner is an authority on the subject – and runs the BNI (which is heavily promoted throughout). Gives a good overview fo the principles of how networks work.”

“Your Network is your Net Worth!”

As I research the subject of Personal Networks further. I am finding many more resources on the subject – and my Amazon account is taking some hammering! It’s interesting that it’s often the older books & research (from 1970s through to early 2000s) that seem to be hitting the mark for me. I think some of this is because in recent times the focus of most writing has been on the rapid growth of Social Networking. I believe that your personal network should be reviewed in the round – and the focus just on social networking can be damaging to contacts not actively on-line (and those

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hard to find people you would like to meet).

One quote I came across today was a header on a page of Keith Ferrazzi’s website.

“Your network is your net worth … Add to your personal bottom line with better networking and bigger relationships.” Tim Sanders, Author of Love is the Killer App.

I passionately believe that this is right – and very few people value their Personal Network enough. Tim’s book seems to be out of print in the UK now – but Amazon have come up with a second-hand version that is being shipped to me.

Anxious to find more about Tim Sanders, I headed off to his website. He has a great post on the subject. It’s quoted below (with Tim’s permission) – and has an excellent networking tip at the end.

“Your network is your net worth. So why don’t you invest time in it?

Think about it. Much of your future rides on one of your network contacts. Your network of personal relationships, filed in databases like Outlook or Yahoo’s Address Book, is the number one source of opportunities and solutions for you.

Yet you don’t invest much time in it at all. You probably spend five to ten times more personal effort making sure your Inbox is empty — yet that yields very little value. Time invested in entering personal contacts, spending time with them and keeping the relationship fresh is much more valuable time spent.

Recommended: Do the random refresh exercise every Thursday for the next four weeks. Here’s how the exercise works: You randomly pick three names from your rolodex or address book. Call them on the phone and devote fifteen minutes to playing catchup. Agree to do something with at least one of them, even if it is just a call or lunch in the future. The whole month’s effort should cost you less than four hours, yet potentially yield something great. Try it and report results later under comments.”

I’m definitely going to become a follower of his blog – and will review his book when it arrives.

Tim speaks a lot of sense!

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