Connecting socially with purpose.

March 21, 2010


©2007 Derek Sivers

This article isn’t about strategies for using social media on a branding level. Those plans involve individual situations that are appropriate to the mission of a brand’s campaign objectives. This conversation is about using online social networks for building professional relationships. If you’re a professional using social media, your best plan is to have a purpose and be consistent.

I’ve always been a social person and after 15 years in the ad industry I enjoy meeting people and having conversations about the biz. About two years ago I joined adgabber.com, a social community site dedicated to serving the advertising, marketing and media industry – a place to share the latest ads and news. With over 8,000 members, I realized it was a great place to have conversations, post articles and gather content. The site was formed as a sub social group of Adrants.com.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because it’s the premise to my purpose for using online social media for professional reasons. Like AdGabber, there are many tools available to establish relationships for building a solid professional network.

Linkedin.com is an awesome tool. It’s basically an online resume on steroids – it lists my work history and professional connections throughout my career including associations, books I’m reading and groups I’m affiliated with. This network is probably the most relevant relationship builder for having conversations with other professionals in the industry where you work, or within related industries. In advertising it’s especially great for connecting with say, brand managers with whom you don’t normally communicate and would want to establish a network with. If you’re not familiar with its purpose here’s a little info. on it:


Ok, so these social tools were the foundation to my online relationships. Then I joined twitter. Twitter allowed for instant real-time sharing of valuable content from whom I followed: Ad Men, Social Media Gurus, Graphic Designers, Art Directors, etc. I also used this tool to promote content from the ad agency where I worked – as the Creative Director. This was my purpose and I remain consistent with it to this day. Some use it merely as another form of personal socializing, I made sure I didn’t follow these Tweeps. The people I followed and still follow are aligned with my purpose and are all associated with advertising in one form or another. And, for the most part, the people who follow me are the same. In short, this is the real beauty of twitter. To boot, it proved to be important in research and keeping current in my industry.

All this may be elementary for a lot of you, just stay with me a little longer, I have a point to make.

Now that I had my three levels of online relationships down it was just a matter of being consistent with the sharing, conversations and contributing. I did this on a regular basis and it was part of my daily plan. If you don’t plan your day using social media this way, it can very easily consume your whole day – don’t let that happen.

This formula and the certain social networks I use is my personal strategy. There are many other social tools available for you to use. However, based on the personal professional mission I’m talking about here, this plan works pretty well.

Ok, here’s why I wanted you to stay with me – I left my job as Creative Director at redpepper. What happened next is how I have positioned myself for further employment and other opportunities with the world.

With the three networks already established all I had to do was: build this site to showcase my work (portfolio) and convey my understanding of advertising strategies; provide relevant content in a blog format to highlight my philosophies (this helps others to get to know me on a different level); share it within my established social networks to get exposure. Next I started a separate blog, I chose postereous, for the purpose of critiquing ads within the industry to stay current and to also share with others – another form of exposure.

All five social network tools allowed the user to connect with each of them – creating a cyclical way of relationship building and exposure. More importantly, having conversations with those who commented or shared on the content I provided, and likewise, doing the same with those who connected with me, gave way to new relationship opportunities.

Here’s the key: I still found traditional ways to meet people by using these social networks: I volunteered to judge shows and speak at events; I developed contests and gave away gifts to meet people and share stories to get to know them better and for them to know me.

In the end, it’s people that we communicate with. Whether it be for brands or for ourselves, “social media” or better, “social connecting” is all about being purposeful with how you connect with others and have conversations about..well, you have to find out for yourself.

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