Lofty words cannot construct an alliance or maintain it; only concrete deeds do that. – John F. Kennedy
Small Business Trends posted two articles with opposing views on the use of Social Networking yesterday. The posts are written by professionals and offer two wholly divergent views without hype and without some tangential argument over MySpace versus Facebook.
Author John Mariotti takes the con position in his article. He states, "real business people realize that this social networking trend is ." He lists four networking alternatives and four marketing alternatives. I encourage you to read the article, it is very good. In summary, Mr. Mariotti concludes that there is no real business to be developed through social networking sites, relationships are superficial, and it cannot replace face to face solid relationship development.
Author Ivana Taylor offers the pro position in her article. She states, "if you want to be in business in the next 20 years, you'd better be using the tools that 20 year olds are using to decide who to buy from." She stresses that social networking now has an integral place as a part of a marketing strategy – chiefly, as promotion, "communicating your offering."
Now I read both of these articles because Anita Campbell of smallbiztrends.com uses Twitter and she regularly informs those who follow her about posts to her site. So, this begs the question, if I found the articles as the result of a social networking site, does that mean Ms. Campbell's use of social networking is working? Well, kind of. I did read her biography and now I know Ms. Campbell is a fellow attorney with her J.D. from the University of Akron. I do not know if I would have known this about her in any other way or interacted with her except perhaps at a continuing education seminar.
But I accept Mr. Mariotti's premise as well. Do I have a close relationship with Ms. Campell such that I would use her firm? No (at least not now). And, I do not expect Small Business Trends, LLC to become a new client of my firm either (but, Anita please call if you are interested – quality legal representation for a very competitive price). Quite frankly, I did not even click on any of the ads on the site. So, online social networking – solely with the belief that long-term, deep business relationships will develop – is not an effective stand-alone tool. But, I use it.
It is not "complicated" as Mr. Mariotti suggests. And, with all due respect, I cannot get to all of the "clubs" and "professional societies" networking functions – assuming I am invited. I suspect working professional moms feel the same way. I do not spend much time on LinkedIn or Twitter and it is easy for me to tweak my profiles over coffee on a Saturday.
I perceive value in having learned about Ms. Campell, Ms. Taylor, and Mr. Mariotti's points of view and having learned about them, their experience and know how. I may pick up one of their books. Perhaps, I will convert their sage advice into my own when speaking to an unsuspecting client someday. When and if I ever meet them face-to-face, I will have something to discuss and it will be about them. I will be prepared with my message and who I am and what I have to offer. And, ultimately, those that can combine solid time proven strategies with the new will be the most successful.