©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.


Feelin’ Campy

March 6, 2010

PodCamp Nashville – Cadillac Ranch, Music City

Today I presented at PodCamp Nashville, a local event inspired by the user generated national conference, BarCamp and is put on by the local community itself. It’s also free – in an “un-conference” style format. As always, I enjoyed running into friends in the biz and networking with others. The best parts of the event were the people and the content they presented. Here’s why:

PodCamp invites people within the community to present at the event, with content that is relevant to the needs of that market.

There is a certain trust between the presenter and the attendee as every member of the event is from that city and in general, from the same industry.

The event planners and volunteers who execute the event are also from that same community.

Myself and Brian VanderMey, founder of  The Collaboratory, a relatively new organization I am currently involved with, presented a session based on the challenges of collaboration and how to leverage social media.

The Collaboratory is a group of independent marketers, creatives and ad folk working together benefiting non-profits. Each of the members are involved in other activities – looking for their next creative opportunity or employment. The benefit and purpose to the member of this organization is to stay sharp and achieve personal and professional growth. After the group’s population grew to over 35 people, a new challenge arose – how to collaborate with each other remotely.

None of The Collaboratory’s members arrive at the same office each day to develop the projects they work on for these non-profits. Instead, they operate remotely only meeting physically when necessary or when client meetings dictate. Very quickly we realized that sharing information and attempts at collaborating became an issue: e-mail threads were long and confusing; conversations in groups were cumbersome and didn’t foster the real-time interaction needed for true collaboration; organization of projects, assigned talent and client content wasn’t efficient and cracks in the process were starting to show up.

A solution to this challenge was an innovative way to collaborate online – not by expensive organizational applications as these don’t allow for real-time conversation that fosters collaboration – instead by utilizing social apps currently available for free, a perk for this organization working with non-profits.

The following is a model we developed that aggregates a combination of popular social tools.  These harness the ability to communicate at a high level and promote the true fundamentals of collaboration to ensure great results.

This “map” of our collaborative process showcases each social app with a specific task. If you’ve used these tools before, it’s pretty self explanitory – with the exception of Twitter and its function.

Twitter is great for cultivating content and tapping into information for research. It is also a great tool for capturing content such as photos, drafts and videos that can be uploaded to social apps that store information that allow for sharing. Evernote is a good example of a content storing and sharing application. Finally, twitter can be easily used by mobile devices and it’s excellent for remote members who are mostly mobile.

Our exploration of a social app that helps in collaborative communication is Google Wave, a new product by Google that is still in beta testing. Wave allows for real-time conversations with multiple people and simultaneous interaction.

The beauty of this tool is its flexibility. Here’s a catchy video using Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp fiction as a theme and demonstrates the program’s agility.

It was fun to present our journey to solving online collaboration at PodCamp. It was a great event and I can’t wait until PCN11 next year. Check out some of the tweets from attendees that signed up for our session.