Tag Archives: social network

Are you LinkedIn?

In my view, LinkedIn is becoming one of the most important business tools available for any size of organisation. Large companies can use it to promote themselves, trigger debate, conduct open forums online, and smaller business owners can use it to reach out to prospects in a very focused way.

It really works, and the most important thing is, that almost everyone is now on there. If you are not using it then you can’t be all that serious about networking or gaining new business, because so many people now use this tool for their business.

But gaining value from time in social networks can still be a minefield. So many managers still see time in social networks as an added extra or something they just don’t have time for. How do you cut through the fat and get to the value?

Spending a day with a marketing expert who also understands LinkedIn would probably help, so I’m pleased to say that one of my neighbours in Ealing, Rod Sloane, is running a morning workshop on Feb 10th, 2011 focused entirely on how you use LinkedIn to get more business – and that’s the bottom line. It shouldn’t just be about having fun, it’s about getting more business.

Take a look here for the event listing on LinkedIn…

Rod Sloane in Walpole Park

I’m glad I don’t work at Murphy Oil

Take a look at this debate from Linked In. The first person is talking about their investment in Wales, which I have asked them to elaborate on and compare to other parts of the UK.

Clearly this has upset Philip Hughes of Murphy Oil, who is of course based in Wales, and seems to think it’s xenophobic to contrast why a company invests in Wales as opposed to Northern Ireland.

But not only does Mr Hughes choose to try shutting down the debate by implying I am racist, he then starts suggesting that he is a “real” business person and I couldn’t possibly have a view.

That’s because I’ve written a book. That makes me an ‘academic’ and therefore not able to comment on what the real business people do in their offices.

If this is how debate takes place in Murphy Oil, I’m glad I don’t work there!

Tom Lawrence • Paul – You are demonstrating perfectly my problem that the big outsourcing names have done a lot of damage. Was your experience an off shoring model? 

I would say its almost (if not 100%) impossible to deliver the large ROI that exist in most companies through effective procurement via an off shoring model. Impossible for the simple reason that its all about business engagement, trust building, etc. 

Procurement doesn’t actually buy anything – its an influencer. An internal consultant. So to make people change their behaviours (which is where the real value is – multiples of what is achievable through negotiating with a supplier to get a better price) you have to be on the ground, in front of the stakeholder working with them day to day. Off shoring simply won’t work. Its too impersonal. Too process led. You need good commercial communicators intercating face-to-face with the stakeholders. 

The transactional work we do (e.g. help desk, supplier onboarding, market research, etc.) we run out of a shared services centre in South Wales – same time zone, same culture, same mother tongue (and they have mainland European languages in abundance there too). It means even this team can be ‘imtimate’ with our client stakeholders. We tried to run it out of Hydrabad, but because they were unable to form relationships with our client stakeholders, it failed. So we moved it to Wales.

philip hughes • Well done Tom – good decision …. although I wont get hung up on the expression “mother tongue”… diolch yn fawr!!!

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • Why Wales over other parts of the UK though?

Tom Lawrence • Why Wales? Lots of skills there, fed by Cardiff Uni – including languages. Lots of call centres, so plenty of relevant work experience. 2.5 hrs on train to London. And the govt grants are very attaractive. 

Altogether it was more attractive, and better value, than the alternatives, e.g. Poland.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • I mean compared to Newcastle, or Belfast, not Poland though…

philip hughes • Your persistence on this matter is annoying Mark – Tom made a choice based on best value delivery with quality driven well trained very capable available workforce. Competition is always fierce for regional development – this time south wales next time newcastle or belfast or wherever you happen to live – move on and talk about outsourcing as a business benefit or not and stay away from the xenophobia OK!!

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • Philip, I’ve got no idea at all what you are talking about. I’d asked in the debate about the merits of investing in various regions of the UK, including Wales, but Tom actually compared the investment to Poland as the alternative – I merely asked again about the relative merits of various regions within the UK. 

That’s xenophobic and annoying? I’m certainly glad I don’t work with you. I think my record of writing books about investment in Brazil, Russia, India, China, Poland, as well as working with several UK trade bodies to promote FDI, including the Welsh Assembly, speaks for itself on the accusation of xenophobia.

philip hughes • Being an academic is fine and if Mark has written books also fine. I just wonder if anyone has read them? An examination of Regional development funding, with the last vestiges of objective 1 may assist in understanding Tom’s excellent decision to come to Wales. 

Anyway back to debate at the sharp end of business – is outsourcing pure cost reduction – no in my opinion as I dont understand “pure” cost reduction. A matter of definition. 
I think outsourcing is a great tool for providing improved VALUE to businesses, which has a cost component, but there is also the intellectual improvement to business processes released by utilising the vendors skill and experience gained elsewhere, which is almost impossible to cost in the traditional sense.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • Philip, I’m at the “sharp end” of business working with some of the world’s leading firms on a daily basis, though clearly you consider it rather academic to also write about that experience.
Black Mountains, Wales: nice view

Ealing Tweetup (meet your Twitter buddies, for real!)

Do you use Twitter? Live in or around west London?
Why not meet and greet some other Twitter users from around the area over a pint or three?

I’m organising this ‘tweetup’ so all the local Twitter users get together for a pint and chat – and to meet in ‘3D’. Last time I did this we had over 25 people together for a drink, including school teachers, a local councillor, writers, web design experts, photographers… it was a random mix of west London neighbours and many have stayed in touch.

This time it’s going to be bigger and the pub is even promoting it too – as they want our beer money…! Hopefully we can get some free food or pints from Tom and his team if we get a good crowd along. We might even arrange a Twitter quiz or some other such games to try and drum up some cash for a good cause or something…

It’s a Friday night and Facebook users will be welcome to join us so please come along…

Mark Hillary

Event page on Facebook is here

Rose & Crown
Church Place, St Mary’s Road
Ealing, London
W5 4HN

020 8567 2811

The closest tube is South Ealing, on the Piccadilly line. The 65 bus (Ealing Broadway to Richmond and Kingston) runs right past the pub, so you can also come via Ealing Broadway station (District and Central line tube and fast train link to Paddington)…

@BTCare – yes, BT really cares!

In some of my corporate or academic lectures I have mentioned @btcare in the past. It’s often been controversial, like the time I was speaking at LSBU and I recounted the time that BT had helped me out with a dodgy broadband connection – all via Twitter. One academic took exception to this because he had faced a similar problem that took him hours to resolve, after several phone calls.

So, when I had another issue with BT, the first place I turned was BTcare on Twitter.

In short, I keep getting a lot of phantom phone calls at home. The phone rings and when I answer there is nobody there. Usually there is some bleeping, like a fax machine trying to connect. It’s impossible to find which company is doing this because they block the CLI, so it’s always a private number.

So, I asked BT on Twitter what I could about this – after 3 or 4 calls today drove me to do something about it.

I had low expectations, but the BT Twitter team came back to me in about half an hour asking for my phone number, which I sent on to them. They came back even more quickly with some ideas about what I could do to immediately resolve the issue. I never even knew I could get my BT phone to just reject (and therefore not ring) if a caller has withheld their number. I had a problem setting this up on my line, but the BT Twitter team took over and said they would sort it all out for me remotely.

I don’t know how BT is going to scale this up once more and more users start using social media for support, but the way @BTcare works at present is a case study in how a large telco can use Twitter and make it really work. The agents who answer the Twitter messages just feel so much more empowered to help than the regular contact centre agent. Perhaps that is just my perception, but in using the Twitter help service twice I’ve been impressed on both occasions, and I can’t recall that kind of service from any major firm – let alone a telco.

Nice job BT, keep it up!

Too many twats on twitter?

I was sitting on a train on Saturday browsing the latest tweets of my friends and I noticed the Stephen Fry row kicking off in real-time. It almost feels like a privilege to have been reading his depressed responses to being called boring, within a minute of him making those comments, given what happened next.

Fry shut down for a period of time while he was on a flight, blissfully unaware of what he had started by suggesting that he would quit Twitter because the debate has become too nasty and can no longer be enjoyed.

I sat there thinking, ‘here we go again, another big news story is going to come from this’… and so it happened. The press at the weekend was full of stories about how Fry got upset, apparently quit the site, and then returned all sheepish once he logged in after the flight and realised the world had discussed nothing else during his period of downtime.

The Guardian has a very good blog entry today on this story. I have to say I agree with just about all these comments.We have arrived in a very bizarre place where the newspapers are dominated by Jedward and Twitter.

Since when did discussions and arguments on Twitter, or any other social network or chat room, become mass media news stories?

Linked in at last?

I’ve never really liked the Linked In social network. It’s always struck me as little more than an online CV. I get far more interactivity and work opportunities from the friends I talk to on Facebook. But after hearing from so many people about how Linked In works really well for them, I decided I had better update my profile… I’d had a profile on there for ages, just with very little information. So here it is all updated…