Like most of you, being involved in newsgroups, Twitter, blogs, or Facebook is NOT found anywhere in my job description. If it is in your job description, chances are you work in marketing, PR, or even journalism. At the same time, I think most of us are past the point of thinking Facebook is for your kids and Youtube is mainly used by the COOP avoiding work. You might be caught between the “extremists”( like me?) and the “curmudgeons” who would prefer to block it all. You know neither is right and you just want to find the right balance for using these new social technologies so you can better do what you want to do.
I get asked about how I fit social media into my job by people just getting started. Dora Smith even had me do an internal presentation for Siemens on this. There are many questions and misperceptions floating around so I thought I’d try to address those while throwing out some of my own solutions (which may or may not work for you).
But first, some background…
I don’t consider myself a social media expert and I guess I'm too old to be a digital native. I usually explain to people its a hobby for me. There are also aspects of the way I think and work that made it easy for me to slide into it:
I’m very curious about new technologies. I was on Facebook when you still needed a university email address to get access. I was also on Second Life almost 5 years ago and Google Wave almost as soon as it came out. Being first is not always a good idea :-( (4 Aug 2010 update: Google just announced it is killing Google Wave)
I’m very “efficiency” minded. I used to be kidded that I should have been an industrial engineer (those are the guys always waking around the factory with their stop watches trying to make the whole process run faster). More on this later.
I’m not an 8-5 person. That guy in the office that likes to intently focus on work and then leave it all at the office is not me. Case in point, it is 12pm on Sunday as I write this. I’m not saying 8-5 is bad but I think social media is easier if you are more flexible with your time.
In social media, for better or worse, work and personal life overlap for me. Part of it stems from the fact I was doing “socal media” before it was popular so the work part kind of grew into my personal life. People ask me about separating work and home and I have no idea if that is good or bad. It seems to depend a lot on the person.
I’ve got a job where making connections with others is very important. It is essential I talk to customers and get their ideas. I need to keep in touch with what competitors are doing. If a blogger or journalist writes about CAD, FEA or simulation, I want to see what they write and comment if I can provide something useful. Your job is likely very different than mine but I think the more connections you need to make (customers and potential customers, suppliers, industry and CAD experts, other people like yourself) the more valuable the various social media tools become.
This post is already getting long so I’ll stop here for today. Now that you know where I’m coming from, next post I’ll focus more on efficient use of social media and how you don’t need to spend eight hours a day checking your Facebook account to benefit from it.