Sunday, November 2, 2014

Social Networking Basics

Cherise Schacter, CSI, CDT
For its October 2014 meeting, the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute enjoyed having Cherise Schacter, CSI, CDT deliver an excellent presentation on social networking basics. 
I previously described Cherise to readers of SW Oregon Architect as an “absolute dynamo” and a “real up-and-comer,” though she has now most definitely arrived and is leaving an indelible mark on CSI. After only three short years as a CSI member, Cherise is already the Portland chapter president, chair of CSI’s Certification Preparation Committee, and a member of the CSI Academies planning team. She is also the undeniable queen of the CSI Krakens. As I’ve mentioned before, the CSI Krakens are the loudest cheerleaders of a movement that exemplifies the collaborative ethos of successful project teams. Any and every CSI member who wants to likewise join the crusade can become a CSI Kraken. 
Undoubtedly, social networking media are helping to spread the CSI Kraken fever. As Cherise reported, social media have become commonplace means for members of the AEC industry to communicate and share information and ideas. The bottom line is that if you’re not already engaged online, you’re definitely behind the curve. There’s no time like the present to jump in, expand your reach, and grow your professional network. 
Cherise has become an authority on the topic of online social networking. Her impressive Twitter statistics show she has tweeted more than 32,000 times, has 1,672 followers, and follows 1,910 others. Her LinkedIn connections number 1,580 professionals.(1) Additionally, Cherise is a fellow blogger. Her blog—entitled The Voices In My Head—may be new but Cherise displays an innate knack for writing engagingly about her life, work, and/or her appreciation for CSI in every post. 
Cherise is quick to point out that she is not a marketing professional. Instead, she has worked for more than 30 years in the AEC industry, presently serving as Standards Coordinator for Interface Engineering in Portland. In this role, Cherise’s responsibilities include writing specifications, developing standards, quality assurance/quality control, and construction contract administration. It is precisely this background that qualifies her best to talk about the value of social networking to CSI members. 
Cherise is enthusiastic about social networking because she’s living proof of its benefits. By her own account, she’s made incredible connections from all disciplines (worldwide), gained valuable education and experience from the information shared with her, amassed a wealth of trusted advisors for guidance, and made the most of opportunities that have taken her career to places she never thought possible. These benefits have accrued not only to Cherise personally but also to Interface Engineering as well. 
Twitter and LinkedIn are Cherise’s primary social networking tools, and she focused her talk on these two platforms. She packed a huge amount of information into a concise, fast-paced presentation suited to SoMe newbies and old hands alike. I don’t think of myself as a Twitter and LinkedIn novice, yet Cherise offered tidbits of invaluable advice about both networking services that were completely new to me. 
Here (borrowing liberally from her Powerpoint slides) are a few of the key points Cherise made:
About Social Media Networking:

  • Social media networking is the practice of expanding your business and/or social contacts by making connections online.
  • The potential is incredible but “potential” means nothing if you don’t do anything with it.
  • If you’re a beginner, think of social media networking like starting a new school: At first, you don’t know anybody and have no friends. You attend some classes and start meeting people. As you meet people, you start associating with the ones with similar interests. This “school” is worldwide. You can interact and learn from like-minded professionals you never would have met any other way.
  • Social Media (SoMe) and social networking have some overlap but are two separate marketing concepts. SoMe is a format that delivers a message like TV and radio; it is a system to disseminate information, which everyone can create and distribute. Conversely, social networking is an act of engagement. The main purpose of social networking is to connect with other people. People with similar interests congregate to share information of mutual interest.
  • Social media, especially Twitter, can be like drinking from a firehouse. Refine your stream to dictate what you want to read.
  • Social networking is career insurance you can’t afford to be without. It will help you maintain a robust professional brand. Power your career.
  • Social networking is not the wave of the future; it is here NOW.
About Twitter:

  • Twitter is micro-blogging, social messaging, news reporting, and social media marketing.
  • There are more than 645,750,000 active registered users, who generate an average of 58 million tweets per day (9,100 tweets per second!).
  • Twitter is free. The only price is your time and effort.
  • Twitter is instant, quick to use, and can greatly expand your market reach.
  • Your competition is likely already using Twitter, so you should too.
  • Twitter allows you to engage your clients and customers on a regular basis.
  • With only 140 characters, each tweet is short and sweet.
  • Tweet Reach = total number of estimated unique Twitter users using the same search term.
  • Exposure = total number of times tweets about the same search term were delivered to Twitter streams.
  • Impressions = total number of times a tweet has been delivered to the Twitter stream of a particular account.
  • Hashtags: Think of hashtags as a TV channel. If you want to find a particular program, you dial that channel. Same with a hashtag. If you type #CSIKraken into the search box, it will return all the tweets that include that hashtag.
  • Don’t be an egghead. People are likely to ignore you.
  • Create a great bio. People will use this to decide whether to follow you.
  • Have a short, easy username that is easy to type and easy to remember.
  • Tweet less than 140 characters. Leave room for others to reply or retweet.
  • What you tweet about will choose your followers. Post cats—expect cat ladies. Post construction failures—expect construction professionals.
  • Twitter is not a monologue; it is a social medium. Nobody likes to talk to a wall. Reply to tweets and participate in conversations.
  • Share/promote others. Share and re-tweet information necessary to your brand or something you think will be interesting to your followers. People will remember you for sharing and respond in kind when you tweet something interesting. CSI has a lot of bloggers who use Twitter to promote their writing. When you re-tweet them, you drive traffic to them.
  • Respond to others in a timely manner. Engagement only happens if you respond.
  • Mind your manners. Ranting will get you nowhere. Stay away from conflict and controversial topics. Always be polite and respectful.
  • Thank often. Thank your followers, especially for re-tweets. A small appreciation tweet can go a long way to building future relationships.
  • Get signed up and get started. Follow people in your area of interest. Spend some time scrolling through tweets and getting a feel for the conversations. Remember, you grow slowly on Twitter. It’s all about building relationships and that takes time. Be patient, be consistent, and engage!

About LinkedIn:

  • LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. It helps connect you to trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities.
  • LinkedIn is about finding and being found with other professionals in your industry. Get in touch.
  • LinkedIn has almost 2 million groups with discussion boards, news boards, and job postings. Learn and share.
  • There are over 100 million LinkedIn members and growing, over 48 million in North America alone.
  • The average age of LinkedIn users is 45. The gender of LinkedIn users is almost evenly split. The average household income of LinkedIn users is $91,566.
  • LinkedIn helps you to establish and maintain business contacts online, get introduced to professionals and service providers, recommend colleagues, and check references.
  • LinkedIn is a forum within which to conduct research. You can receive industry news, and ask and answer industry questions. LinkedIn provides opportunities to publish articles or your blog.
  • The fundamental purpose of LinkedIn is to present your professional, rather than personal image. Don’t confuse the two.
  • Search engines LOVE LinkedIn, which is good for you, because you can control every bit of info on your profile
Additionally, Cherise provided the following list of helpful resources regarding Twitter and LinkedIn:

There are critics of social networking who contend its technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. What these “nattering nabobs of negativity” (2) fail to recognize is how the intelligent use of social media—specifically Twitter and LinkedIn—can greatly enhance our ability to communicate and share on a professional level. Let’s not be Luddites and fail to recognize the vast potential of social media networking. Fundamentally, today’s social media is a collection of tools that create and support relationships. In this respect they’re just like the telephone—a tool for and not a usurper of social interaction. 
It’s neither a coincidence nor insignificant that Cherise and I first became acquainted through Twitter; in fact, we didn’t meet in person until just this past May at the CSI Northwest Region Conference in Portland. I truly believe both Cherise and I came to know each other as well or better as members of CSI’s very active community of “tweeps” as we might have the old-fashioned way. Seeing Cherise in person for the first time was actually very much like greeting a good friend I’d known for many years. 
Release the krakens!
Attendance at the October 2014 meeting was the best it has been in many months. Those who were on hand to listen to Cherise were rewarded with a perfect primer about the value and potential of social networking. Thank you Cherise for making the trip down I-5 and sharing your expertise with the Willamette Valley Chapter! #CSIKrakens rule!

(1)  To compare, I’ve tweeted less than 1,000 times (over the three-year period since I joined Twitter), have 657 followers, and follow 1,019 people. I have 355 LinkedIn connections.

(2)  I trust the late William Safire would not begrudge my use of the infamous line he wrote in 1968 for a speech by then vice-president Spiro Agnew.

1 comment:

Jodi Sommers said...

Great information. Thanks for sharing Randy