Too often we read stories of how people’s use of social networks has backfired. However, the reality is that those stories are the exception not the rule. Social networks are not going anywhere, so it is crucial that consultants not only come to terms with that but work to master their use of social networks in our hyperconnected society.
The following are my personal favorite networks for my life as a consultant.
This is an obvious choice and for good reason. Every consultant knows that your network is a crucial aspect of your career. At its core, LinkedIn replaces the old Rolodex allowing you to manage nearly all contacts you have made through your career Beyond the basics LinkedIn (when used well) serves as an active CV/resume, project portfolio, and collection of references in one. Ask any recruiter and they will tell you that LinkedIn is now nearly as important as your actual CV/Resume. If you are not using LinkedIn, stop reading this and go register otherwise you are missing out on a great many opportunities to better your career and your company.
Despite being one of the largest and most widely used social networks Twitter remains a mystery to so many people. Too many times I have been asked “What is the point of Twitter? I don’t get it.” The answer to that question varies from person to person but here are my answer for a consultant. Firstly, it serves as a way to follow influencers. When you are waiting at an airport gate you can see what is on your favorite CEO’s mind or see the latest updates from a great blog. Besides providing a pipeline to people you would otherwise not have access to, Twitter also limits what you say to 140 characters. This helps us as consultants practice being concise. No Im not talking abt writing like u h8 the english language. I mean clearly, completely and briefly making your point.
A lesser known social network but worth a note. With all of the traveling, long hours, client dinners, cafe workdays and takeout food that come with our line of work it can be very hard to stay in shape. When I started my latest job, I was in great shape but I got up in learning the ropes and all of the other tendencies listed above. At the end of my first big project (3 months), I had gained about 12lbs and lost a jawline. Fitocracy, is a network for tracking your workouts but it goes beyond a simple log. In fact, I still track my workouts in a notebook too.
What Fitocracy does so well is add elements of competition and gamification to the unending pursuit of physical fitness. Users make friends to get encouragement, ideas for workouts and can even challenge friends for motivation. I recently, completed a bench press challenge against a former colleague that ended in a tie (95kg for those wondering). In the three months since that project ended I have not only lost the weight that I put on but I have become significantly stronger than I have ever been. I owe at least some of that to Fitocracy.
In other articles, I have discussed my almost compulsive need to listen to music when I am working. Spotify provides access to one of the world’s largest music collection and streams it in good quality. It also allows you to connect with other users to see what they are listening to. You can do all of this without taking up valuable storage space on your computer. For mobile workers like consultants, this is what makes steaming music so great it can be used on lightweight computers like a MacBook Air, netbooks and even some tablet platforms. Another great feature of Spotify is that it creates custom radio stations like Pandora but without the geo-restrictions (for premium users), for those of you who work and/or live abroad like me.
I like to believe I am an early adopter but Pinterest took me a long to latch on to. I always saw it as too much of a girly social network so there was a natural aversion. In fact, I still do not have a personal account. However, I manage the social media for this blog and I have been using Pinterest as a result. It did not take long to see the benefits, consultants are nothing if not a collection of ideas and that is exactly what Pinterest is as well.
The fact, that I only use it in a somewhat professional context helps back that point up. Pinterest functions as a digital corkboard on which users ‘pin’ photos of various things, usual within a certain theme such as recipes, craft ideas or even shopping lists. You may think that you don’t need any new ideas for your work, that may even be true but Pinterest can still help. In my experience, clients are often subdued when they have an image in mind of what changes they face. So ladies and gentlemen of the consulting world, give Pinterest a try and you too will see what I mean.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list and new networks are popping up everyday like Vine, Glassboard, Branch and even my own side project so these may soon be out of date. That doesn’t mean you should wait to try them out. The best consultants stay on top of their respective industries and communication is a critical aspect of all industries. Join the conversation, we would love to know what networks you are using and those you think we should have included.