Ever since I started AccMan I’ve held the view that this media is a way to build reputation and influence. It’s an essential part of marketing your skills and wares. It doesn’t have to be ‘in your face’ messaging but about the ability to tell a story that resonates with people. It’s been something I’ve tried to encourage our crusty profession to pick up from day one. I don’t think I’ve been that successful but then I’m not hurting for work or cash so something must be OK. The last couple of days are a sort of testament to that.
In the wider blogsophere I’ve cobbled a reputation the US calls ‘cumudgeonly.’ That’s fine though I prefer something that describes the practical voice of reason. While I love new technology and innovation, I detest the disconnect between marketing hype and reality. The crap I have to digitally shovel is unbelievable when weighed against PR spin on topics such as social media, a topic I think is vastly over-rated and horribly over-hyped. Check this as an example from a piece I received a few hours ago:
6 out of 10 Americans who use social media interact with companies on social media Web sites
Please – don’t laugh. It’s pitiful.
It was against that backdrop I wrote a piece at Chris Brogan’s place that attacked the rationale behind Web 2.0 Expo. I described it as boring and dull. That incurred the wrath of Tim O’Reilly, the show’s founder and a well known luminary in tech circles who basically thinks I’m an idiot but managed to show incredible ignorance by failing to do even the most basic research on me or my background. I don’t mind. In fact as I said on Irregular Enterprise, I believe the topic I was discussing needs a good airing.Wea ll make mistakes and it is all too easy to fall into the knee jerk trap when a particular sacred cow is being slaughtered.
I was surprised by the amount of support for my position that came through back channels like email, direct messages and on Twitter. I’ve come to rely on Twitter as part of my research toolkit so when I ran a search on ‘dahowlett or Dennis Howlett’ this is what turned up.That will change over time so I’ve taken a snapshot (image left.)
I particularly like Graham from bpodr’s assessment where he says:
I won’t recreate the debate here – read the comments on the post for a great insight into some of the problems associated with taking these tools mainstream – but what the comments revealed was the power of an open forum for trying to define something and reach a consensus. This is what drives change…
Opening up the debate might seem scary. You may hear things you don’t want to or which reveal things you would rather stay hidden. But, as Menchaca says in the FT piece, being open leads to credibility.
I’ve no idea if I/Tim would have sparked the debate anywhere else except at Chris’s place. Be that as it may. Having the opportunity to put my dyspeptic voice to the topic at a high profile site was definitely worth the attention.
Around the same time, a Google News Alert came in, tagged with my name. I found that a piece I wrote at TechDirt’s InsightCommunity found its way onto the American Express Open Forum. In this case, TechDirt was paying for views on how to overcome the credit crunch. I donned my number crunching hat, lathered myself in a bit of biz consulting lotion and set out a bunch of things business can do. I knew the piece would end up being syndicated but as I implied on IT Counts, knowing that you’re helpful to even a small handful of readers is incredibly satisfying and good for business in the long term.
Even for those of us who make this medium our business, it takes time to get attention and to build a reputation. Unless of course you’re someone like Stephen Fry. 99.9% of us are not. We’re simply trying to make our way in an increasingly noisy world but passionate about the things in which we believe.
Many professionals I know have become jaded with what they have to deal with. HMRC’s IT is a farce, Sage sucks the life out of creative thinking and as for spreadsheets – don’t get me going on that one. Especially after the Barclays-Lehman debacle. And then there is the degeniracy among the Big 4 that casts a shadow across us all. But it doesn’t have to be like that
I love the technology and I still think there are plenty of good things that can be done with it. This media alone and the references I’ve made to others should offer some evidence of that. It is clear to me that a combination of passion, wit and an ability to express that intelligently can serve you well. Even in a recession. It’s really up to you how much influence and reputation matter to you.
In the meantime, I leave you with this link from the Guardian about why you should not friend your boss on Facebook. A salutary lesson to all social media types. And a good reason to check out LinkedIn.
I’ll now get back to my favourite job: comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable.
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