My hero and mentor
By Will Kintish
Dale Carnegie, author of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, was the first true social networking guru back in the 1930s. His winning wisdom ruled in the days a time when only birds tweeted, Orange, Apple and Blackberry were found in our fruit bowls and semaphore was the original SMS (Short Message System). This book written in 1936 was voted, 64 years after it was written, as the best management book of the 20th century. In my view everyone in the world should be asked to read it in their mid-teen years.
He was a master advocate for the development of interpersonal skills, network building and – if you applied his techniques diligently – sales. So, Carnegie would surely have been fascinated by today’s frenetic, sometimes fatuous, social networking platforms, seemingly revolutionising the business prospecting landscape.
But would Dale Carnegie have been on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter?
Carnegie encouraged people to cultivate the four principal ways in which you are perceived and evaluated by your peers namely:
- What do you do
- How do you look
- What you say; and
- How you say it
Social networking allows the business-ambitious and established alike, to easily manage – even manipulate – their digital reputation, with a view to attracting allies, cultivating contacts and priming prospects. While Carnegie would have marvelled at the power of social media, he might’ve been concerned by the lack of substantiation required to create
an online reputation.
Social media thrives on building commonality and mutuality, so few true Web 2.0 aficionados would disagree with Carnegie’s assertion that: “The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.” To emphasise this
To become a personal social networking success, one should primarily be prepared to join the conversations and offer insights, or expertise, to help other people access what they want. Digital karma should see the dividends boomerang back in time.
Carnegie was also on record as saying: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you”. Social media certainly allows you to appear to do exactly that – without the travail of actually having to physically spend time with
any socially-challenged purchasing influencers, or procurement officers. And social networks reduce the time and cost factors of network-building, by speeding up the process from two months to just two days or, if you tap into the right online network or business interest group, even two hours.
LinkedIn’s increasing popularity
According to a report by the Society for New Communications Research, executives and corporate managers are eschewing more trite sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and instead flocking in droves to LinkedIn. Almost all — 97 per cent — of those surveyed, used LinkedIn in 2011, compared with 92 per cent in 2010, according to the study.
In the same period, Twitter use dropped to 33 per cent last year, versus 40 per cent in 2009; Facebook, similarly, plummeted to 20 per cent compared with 51 per cent, a year earlier.
For people who are over-awed with this social media, social networks the whole social buzz thing my advice is choose one platform and then filter it down even more to something specific within that platform. For example, on LinkedIn maybe choose just one or two groups but get involved. If you’re on everything, unless you’ve nothing else to do, you end up spreading yourself so thinly the whole exercise, in my opinion, will return you no value.
The physical dimension
In my experience as a speaker and trainer, using a mix of the above to ensure search engine ‘findability’ (when you search for my name, or the topic of ‘Business networking’ or ‘LinkedIn training’, for example) has been quite brilliant for profile-building and professional positioning. But, by far the most productive business networking tool for me are conference appearances, speeches and workshops. There, I get the chance to physically present and demonstrate my insights, plus the real-life client campaigns we’ve executed in the social media space.
You see, despite the entire furore about social media, there’s still something unique and tangible about physical – as opposed to computer-based networking. Meeting someone in person, shaking their hand and “seeing the whites of their eyes”; social media can’t replicate the physical proximity that helps build meaningful business and personal relationships. Every time I present or train LinkedIn techniques I state firmly at the start, the middle and the end there is no substitute for face-to-face. And if you haven’t time for both online and offline networking, drop the former!
While that’s just my experience, I suspect it might also resonate with Dale Carnegie. As a creative and innovative type, Carnegie would have immediately grasped the core tenets of social media; helping people meet other ‘like-mindeds’ and helping them stay in touch. He wouldn’t have appreciated much of the glib and superficial content that pops up, even in those social networking platforms designed for business people. Social media plays to making people feel acknowledged, important and relevant – so not so much has changed since Carnegie published his best-selling perspective.
Would Carnegie have been on Twitter?
So would Dale Carnegie have been on Twitter? I think he’d have registered his name on it, but perhaps, not have been a regular ‘tweeter’. Would Carnegie have been on YouTube? Sure, his speeches and insights would have made for great peer-to-peer fodder. But Dale Carnegie would definitely have been on LinkedIn. And he would have expressed genuine appreciation, empathy, expertise, interest, praise and wonder over the generosity of advice, intellect and perspective that’s often shared within that most popular of digital business networks.