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NTC Panel: Using Social Networking to Increase ROI

Dear Reader,

Tonight I was invited to attend the Nashville Technology Council’s panel discussion titled “Using Social Networking to Increase ROI”. Merrell Ligons invited me to attend as he was on the panel. Also on the panel were Jon Henshaw of Sitening and my buddy Marcus Whitney of Remarkable Wit.

I’ll be honest, when I saw the topic of discussion I did a double take. After all, this was hosted by NTC. NTC is mostly old-school tech in Nashville and for them, this was pretty darned progressive.

I arrived, networked, was pleased to reconnect with old acquaintances like Jerry Dunlop and made a few new friends.

The panel discussion started promptly at 4:30ish. Now call me new-fashioned if you like but a panel discussion on Social Networking that simply has a moderator asking the panelists questions, kinda misses the point of Social Networking totally.(My friend Janet Lee Johnson seems to agree with me.) It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes that the audience was allowed a few questions. After so many *Camps, UnCons and such, this was almost surreal.

Anyhow, Merrel, Jon and Marcus were really the three panelists with clues, they made us proud. Of the others, one was a recruiter who admitted that his sole interaction with Social Networking was LinkedIn, the owner of a software company who felt that their website software that they sold to customers was “Social Networking applied” (um, not) and someone whom I believe was at the director level running a software development team.

There were 2 defining moments for me in the discussion, one good, one bad.

  1. Merrell made a statement to the effect of “From a business standpoint social networking is about listening” I liked it so much I tweeted it. Merrell gets it and is a credit to his employer. (I’m looking at you News Channel 5) A lot of people think that business have to get out on the net and talk. I’m putting the finishing touches on a paper and this is one of the main points. If you want ROI on your Social Networking efforts, shut up and listen!
  2. One of the panelist talked about the fact that they were interviewing someone for a job once and the interviewee had researched both the company and the interviewer to the point that the interviewee had read an article about the interviewer from “quite some time ago”. This “creeped” the interviewer out and they shut down the interview at that point. Honest to god, I almost screamed. Here this person, wanting the job, had taken the time to do research on the company and the interviewer. To take the time to get to know who they were talking to and gets punished because of it. Oh well, it’s companies like that that keep me in business helping other companies find developers. I usually get my best developers from companies without a clue.

Thanks again Merrell for the invite. It was great to get out and meet some local IT people. Honestly though, I think the Geek Breakfast crowd is much more my speed.

Until next time,

5 thoughts on “NTC Panel: Using Social Networking to Increase ROI

  1. Hey @CalEvans,

    That’s the thing about “the dark matter of the Web…” it just doesn’t go away. It’s surprising that a panelist on the topic of social networking would be creeped out by someone doing natural research!

    How big IS that bite on the inside of your cheek?


  2. Hi Janet!

    Yeah, I almost chewed a hole in my cheek trying not to scream out. I was a guest of one of the panelist so I didn’t ask my question. All in all though, it was great seeing Marcus and Merrell again and re-connect with Jon. There was an upside to the whole episode.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.


  3. I think this is where “tone” becomes important. Someone can say, “Hey, I read that love poem you posted five years ago,” and depending on the tone, I could see it being creepy or “normal.” Perhaps the panelist’s point was that the interviewee had researched her personally, rather than the company and her work.

    That said, I agree everything on the web is fair game, and no one should be surprised to hear something come up that’s been made public like that. I make a point of having zero pseudonyms, so anything I pitch onto the web is readily traceable to me — and it’s never come back to haunt me, that I’m aware of.


    P.S. Cal, it was great to meet you at the Tech Council meeting!

  4. Hi Andrew!

    Yes, it was great meeting you.

    I can see your point and maybe I was a bit unfair to the panelist. Part of it may also be perspective. My wife (the lovely and talented Kathy) is constantly reminding me that I live in a different world than most. I live on the Net. I expect people to google me. If you don’t live inside the net, I guess it could be disconcerting.

    Still, the net isn’t getting any smaller, privacy in the Internet age is largely an illusion; people need to get used to it.

    Thanks for the comment!


  5. Hi Cal,
    I appreciated your comments – the NTC is trying to have more events that haven’t been our traditional space. Our delemia when putting on a topic like social networking is where people are in the space – those wanting to learn, those already into it, and those expert users. Getting everyone up to speed or on the same page is the challenge – we need to rethink the base questions and allow more audience participation. After the event, our thought was to do a more deeper dive – three to four hours with actual topic tracks led by folks like Merrell.



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