I’m fascinated with social media both personally and professionally as one of our investment themes. On a typical business day my browser is opened to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The popular view of how most people interact on these networks is pretty simple:
Facebook: This is for personal interactions with family and friends including posting pictures of your kids and the like. I have a relatively small (350) ‘friends’ on Facebook but they are by far my most active network. If you want to throw a sheep at your best friend from high school, Facebook is the place.
LinkedIn: This is your professional resume and platform for posting business related articles and updates. Most people in my 1,251 network on LinkedIn don’t post. People often send me private emails to comment on my posts because they don’t want to go ‘on the record.’ I’ll admit that I don’t get that because saying you ‘liked it’ is hardly controversial.
Twitter: This is sort of like the evening news where you read updates from famous people and traditional media outlets. This is my newest and smallest network at 250 followers but they are hyper social. If you need to be the first of your friends to know the results of Justin Bieber’s paternity test, Twitter is where you should lurk.
Why have all three open at the same time? Here are a couple of examples of how those bright lines have blurred:
- Last week I set up a meeting with a banker to discuss a multi-million dollar deal. How was the meeting arranged? We instant messaged one another on Facebook. I could have called or emailed him but Facebook was more immediate and easy…frictionless communication. Many of my ‘friends’ are business contacts. BTW, one of the largest banks in the country just opened a tech lending practice in Boston. Any guesses?
- This morning I let my network know that one of my past clients, Ted Julian (formerly of @stake, now at Co3Systems) was hiring engineers. I haven’t spoke with Ted since 2001…but I follow him on Twitter and we are connected on LinkedIn. Since he’s hiring and presumably growing, I reminded him to be in touch when he’s raising capital next.
Social media platforms let me stay in touch with past clients, venture capitalists and former colleagues that are geographically disbursed. It also helps to make new connections. In the past month I had conversations with editors and reporters from the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Forbes, the Boston Globe and Mass High Tech Times …all initiated through social media. Social media connections can lead to business relationships IRL (in real life) …but that still requires picking up the phone or meeting over coffee. I love coffee.
I’ll see many of you at the CEO and CFO annual update sponsored by Katz, Nannis and Solomon tomorrow morning at the Sheraton Needham. My panel discussion will be on our investment themes for 2012.