Everybody feels the pressure — especially us entrepreneurial types, who can only benefit from as many people as possible knowing what we do and just how to get ahold of us: the pressure of social networking. The idea of someone not Twittering a few times an hour? Someone who’s not in the habit of checking their Facebook page several times daily? Someone actually walking around amongst us without a website? And someone who doesn’t write a blog..? Career suicide. It’s almost a *requirement* in order to do business. Much like someone without a cell phone now (and there are a few out there who still resist the call of a personal device which makes them always reachable, trackable, and connected) the idea of someone not participating in at least a *couple* of the better-known social networking arenas is completely incomprehensible to most of us.
They’re not paved with gold, however.
Let me recount my personal experiences with my attempts at staying perpetually connected and trying to keep an uninterrupted “newsfeed” going:
I was a late and reluctant joiner of Facebook. The day I activated my Facebook account was perhaps one of the most surreal and mind-numbing days of recent history. Almost immediately upon sending my information out there, droves of people — business contacts both current and past, friends who have been pestering me to join, people who I watched consuming paste in elementary school, ex boyfriends — people from assorted chapters in my life all converging together in a big, overstuffed party; all chatting at once. Some of it interesting, some of it not. I actually had the feeling that this must be what it feels like to walk in on an orgy already in full swing. Everyone’s having a great time, and urging me to jump in. I have mixed feelings about FB: I stop by every morning for about 15 minutes and check on my “community”‘s updates; I send birthday greetings and add to threads only when I feel I have something germaine, pertinent, or comical to add. I only post things on my wall which I think will also start similar “intelligent” threads — and lately I’ve been lucky with great, cohesive, level-headed discussions. I have no interest in posting minutae like: “Allison has eaten too much cheese”, purchasing a pig for someone in Farmtown (or receiving same), or add to the clutter with incessant Fitocracy updates. As for Facebook being an adjunct or a helpful tool for my career: while I do link up with clients and business contacts, for me, it’s really not where deals get made. Having had my own business website for over ten years, I’ve always thought of myself as ultimately “reachable” — there have been some business contacts who have approached me with projects by private messaging me through FB — which I suppose is a straighter line (and often less effort) than digging up my URL or e-mail address in their personal contact lists. I’m one of the few people with an actual Fanpage on FB — one of the Asterisk guys set it up, but it’s a huge time committment to keep it current, and so it sits, as inert and outdated as the Bobby Sherman Fan Club. I have learned a valuable lesson, though: I once posted some frustration about a client (I was very cloaked about it and made sure they they *weren’t* FB friends) — I had a private message from another client who wrote: “I sure hope you don’t vent about us when we ask you for redos!” Message received loud and clear. This is *very* different than complaining to a friend about a bad day. I’m venting to 389 “friends”, to be exact — some of whom might be quite rightfully hurt if I expressed discord at having worked on their last project in such a open, public forum.
Don’t get me started. Seriously, I won’t do it. Again, another well-meaning Asterisk wonk set up a Twitter account for me, convinced that it was unthinkable that I wouldn’t want to keep all my “followers” (Twitter’s word, not mine) up to date about my every move — I have such resistance at cluttering up…everything…with too much….everything. I don’t care when people are “wheels up” and care even less about “wheels down.” I don’t care to see a map where you’re enjoying chicken wings (and I REALLY especially care even less to see iPhone pictures of everything you’re about to consume.) Again, it ties back to my wish to make my FB page full of only witty banter, intelligent back-and-forth, and never wasting people’s time with….minutae. When I have something profound to say in a limited number of characters, that I think will merit from a widespread airing, I’ll Tweet. Don’t hold your breath.
I consider this a major bullet which I dodged recently; a very astute colleague of mine recently talked me out of forming my own Linked In group, and Holy Cow, am I glad he did. I just managed to extricate myself from a mere *discussion* I started on a Voice and Speech group, which went on for weeks and almost took the stuffing out of me. I can’t imagine the work which must go into moderating and overseeing your own group. I posted the link to my recent blog I wrote for this blogspace: “I Wanna Go Tuh Cleveland” in which I discussed the commonly-held belief that the relaxed, lazy cadence of “new-style” IVR delivery actually compromises Speech Recognition “hits” — for a change, I decided not to pour lots of research into the blog article and make it into a term paper, as these articles can sometimes turn into: I wrote from personal experience from what my clients in Speech Rec have been telling me for years. Well, soon, I had Speech rec experts from all over asking to see the proof of my long division and to “show my work” — I and many others defended my viewpoint, all without white papers to back us up, and it all turned out well, but those are hours I’m never getting back. As for merely connecting with people on Linked In — all I can tell you is that I’m in a big Roll-o-Dex in the sky. I may eventually get approached to voice telephone systems by someone whom I’ve exchanged info with on Linked In — it’s yet to happen.
I attended a breakfast while attending IT Expo in Miami last February in which a public relations expert was casually mentioning the “science” behind creating a Wikipedia entry for her clients, and the distinct, rigid steps which must be undertaken to create this article in such a way which won’t get you tazed and thrown to the floor by the Wiki Police — who are apparently omnipresent and just dying to yank well-meaning articles off their site. There’s a definite science to constructing the entry (lots of documentation, factual writing done by *not* the subject but by an impartial third-party; nothing that sounds even remotely promotional or like a commercial) — even the inclusion of a photo is an excercize which makes a Smithsonian jewel theft sound sloppy (it needs to be timed to appear several weeks after the article is done and definitely never on the heels of other recent changes being made to the page, so as not to arouse suspicion from those monitoring the pages.) It was actually my incredibly savant “web-skippy” who pointed out the obstacles involved in getting my own Wiki page: it needs to monitored continually, for any negative comments or sabotage, which *anyone* can do, and the subject is not entitled to clean it up; he also pointed out to me that entries almost always been to have media or press links — there needs to have been something written about the subject previously in the media; video links are essential; press links are a must. I got over ther sting of Skippy telling me I wasn’t quite famous enough for my own Wiki page. And now, I’m grateful that I didn’t push the issue.
Here’s where I enthusiastically and whole-heartedly proclaim that Blogs are Amazing. They truly are. In the two years I’ve written this blog, I have been able to educate the unitiated about the telephony industry in anything but a technical way; I voice telephone prompts every day (in fact, I’ve been described as — if not *the* most — one of the top three most prevalently heard telephone voices working today), and this has been my perspective of my writing: not someone who will write week after week about “SIP GUI Interfaces” or “Clouds” or any number of articles which speak to the inner workings of telephony. I write articles which reflect my outlook as a voice talent working in telephony; my articles in this blogspace are a great resource for me to steer my own clients towards when they’re faltering about how to get in IVR script off the ground; how to avoid the common pitfalls when constructing their IVR call flow; how to streamline their systems into the easiest system for their callers to use. I have been an evangelist to anyone — in any industry — who wishes to attract a clientele; especially if your industry is slightly obscure — as is mine — to start a blog. Provide useful content, commit to doing it on a regular basis, invite comments (which you must commit to reply to) and — naturally — write about what you know. I think blogging looks great on a resume; providing useful content for your industry to benefit from is a definite feather in your cap — as well as being a therapeutic endeavor for you, and let’s just face it — a great deal of fun.
Which brings me to a logical point to announce that this will be my last blog article — I have enjoyed immensely writing it for the past two years, but I feel it’s time to wind it down. In retrospect, I would have paced myself a bit more: during the first year and a half, I was blogging every week, which significantly tapped me out. I have always wanted to keep it content-rich; informative; and of course: avoiding the navel-gazing or “incessant barking” — there’s enough of that out there. I promised myself that I’d stop when I ran out of things to say — and I’m there.
Thanks to all of you who have read it regularly; I have enjoyed the comments and the discussions which have followed, and always tried to write in the purest, most honest, and hopefully entertaining way I could. It’s been my honor, and I’m grateful to have had this forum in which to launch ideas, pay homage, and to share my world with you.
Health and Happiness to you all!