Thursday, September 30, 2010

Draw a Line In The Sand

I remember when I first started using Facebook, I quickly came to the realization that my profile wasn't going to be used for business purposes. I came to this conclusion not because I happen to own and operate a 'competing' product (Fast Pitch!), but simply because I never felt comfortable opening up my personal life to the professional world. And quite frankly, Facebook has never really established a perfect way to separate those two worlds.
The way I communicate to close friends and family on Facebook is very different from the way I communicate and present myself to the business world. The things I share, the comments I make, they belong on different platforms. I mean, do my friends and family really care about my opinion of the latest Internet technology? Do my colleagues in France even know who the Florida Gators are and that they're playing 'Bama this weekend?
During a presentation the other day, I likened the way many of you are combining your personal life with your professional life on Facebook to a law firm allowing a playpen to exist in the lobby. Imagine walking into their 'storefront' for an important meeting about a merger and seeing kids playing Farmville everywhere. My guess is you would begin to lose confidence in the firm and walk out.
Well guess what... if you've allowed a playpen or strong religious and political views to enter your virtual storefront on Facebook, chances are you've already alienated potential clients who will never do business with you. And even worse, how many of those people have shared their opinion of you with others? Worst of all, most of you have no idea it's even happening... do you?
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying abandon Facebook as a place to do business by any means. But there's a way to go about it the right way. Here's my solution:
Create a Fan Page for yourself
Here's mine: (http://www.facebook.com/bjula)
The next time a colleague Friend Requests you on Facebook, simply forward them to your personal fan page and explain to them that you keep your personal life separate from your professional life. Does it come across a little arrogant? Sure. But from my experience, 99% of the people will understand. In fact, the light bulb will probably go off in their heads, and they'll create their own.
Once they become a fan of your page, make sure you keep the conversation professional. Offer insight into your industry. Show them your expertise. Tell them about events you are attending... Use it to promote your Fast Pitch! Profile and share your press releases, blog articles, etc.
From what I've seen, it's time for many of you to draw a line in the sand when it comes to how you're using Facebook.

Bill


Thursday, September 09, 2010

It's Time To Grow Up

A few weeks ago, I was in Jacksonville hosting an after-hours mixer of about 60+ business professionals at a nice restaurant (The Capital Grille). The mixer was scheduled in conjunction with another project I am working on called Top 1000 Professionals. The goal of Top 1000 is pretty simple: Create professional groups inside of Facebook in cities across the U.S. to help people use their Facebook profile to meet other professionals both online and offline.
The project launched just a few months ago (April 2010) in 30 cities around the United States. Since April, the groups have already grown collectively to over 20,000 members. We've also hosted over 50 events which have been attended by over 2,000 of those members in 18 different cities including Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Seattle, San Diego, Kansas City and Orlando to name a few. The events have proven so popular that we've officially 'partnered' Top 1000 with Fast Pitch! to allow Fast Pitch! Platinum Members the ability to attend the events for free!
Although the events are usually held in nice locations (i.e. Capital Grille, Ruths Chris Steakhouse, Morton's, etc.), I promote them as being very casual. By casual I mean, a 'no-pressure' style environment where you can come and go as you please... no lengthy presentations, no gatekeeper questioning whether you you've crashed the event, etc. It's pretty straightforward. You go there to grab a drink and hopefully spend your energy focused on networking.
For the most part, everyone 'gets it', and leaves complimenting us on the refreshing change to the usual 'drop your business card in a fishbowl and win a 50/50 raffle' style event. If you've been to those type of events, you know what I mean... those events (and organizations) that seem to be stuck in a time warp.
However, despite our success, there's always a handful of people (almost always in their mid 50's) who seem to struggle with the idea that a networking event doesn't have to be structured like an elementary school classroom. Rather than focus on the opportunities directly in front of them, they spend the bulk of their time complaining about the size of the room, the type of food provided, the lack of structure, the caliber of people not being what they expected (coming from most of these people, this is laughable), etc. There's no pleasing them and quite frankly, they act like children.

So now I'm forced to draw a line in the sand.
If you're a person who fits the above description (i.e. you tend to complain) or you're looking for a 50/50 raffle... please stay away... or be prepared to be asked to leave. Our events are for mature audiences only.

:)

Bill