COM0015 – Blog #3: Professional Networking

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There are two faces to my networking strategy; my current profession (Royal Canadian Navy) and my hobby (golf instruction) which will become my retirement profession. It is difficult to have an online strategy for the first and difficult to have a current one for the latter. With some introspection it becomes clear that I actually do have one for both although they may not be as developed as they should be.

RCN Networking

Current – Oddly enough I believe I am doing a considerable amount of online networking, despite my assertion in my opening remarks. While the majority of the networking is internal to the department it still remains and it is as part of a very large organization (Department of National Defence). The majority of my networking is through email distribution lists and MS Share Point. As the DND budget shrinks it has become more important to find ways to communicate at a distance, which includes the sharing of massive documents in preparation for virtual conferencing. In the past many of these conferences might have taken place in person and while some business did take place they might have been more of an opportunity for a group hug, what we now call in-person networking. The in-person networking is now reduced to much larger conferences where virtual is not practical. I try and attend many of these in my current field (occupation) within the department, and as a senior leader at these forums I usually have a speaking part and that provides me with a great opportunity to network in-person.

Future – There is little to no plan to change the current construct of networking in the my organisation except that as further budget cuts are forthcoming I would think that increasing the number of collaborative pages such as MS Share Point will grow. This may actually become unmanageable if you become a member on too many groups. At least locally we still have the chance to meet in small groups and get to know some of the folks on the same shared pages and it is always good to place a face to a name.

Golf Instruction

Current – There is very little in place at this point for my hobby; while I do have a blog and a Twitter account they are not a focus in my day-to-day life but usually more of an afterthought. I also have a Face Book page but that is not related to my future business (although I do have a golf group inside my page). The reason for the lack of focus on this portion of my networking efforts would have to be the impression that this business is still maybe 2 or 3 years into the future. The work I am doing in this certificate program is part of my networking effort as I grow my SM knowledge and practice these tools. The in-person networking has also been limited to my interaction on the course with other instructors and in the clubhouse with club managers (mostly at my club).

Future – In the next 6 to 12 months it is my plan to become much more active on my own blog page and provide at a minimum 2 post a month with a goal of a weekly post. Twitter is a bit of a conundrum for me as I do post regularly and re-tweet some interesting posts but I do not spend a great deal of time reading other tweets so that has to be part of the future plan. On both counts I am not too concerned about followers or who I might be following as these are my introductions to the SM world for this business and developing a style and content are more at the forefront. As to the in-person networking I do intend to participate in the Golf Expo this year and start making some connections beyond my current membership in the CGTF.

COM0015 – Blog #2: Strong and Weak Organizations

I guess before I can actually move ahead with what is a strong or weak organization (within a social media construct) I need to define what that means to me, beyond the overtly obvious of having a presence on the SM front lines (Twitter/Face Book).

So what is it that helps me define this concept is simply my personal needs within SM at this point in time. I spend very little time on mobile apps (yes I do own a smart phone but…) most of my SM efforts revolve around either work (security limits SM to email, MS Share Point with some external efforts with twitter, Face Book and Web sites but these are not work related) or my personal addiction of golf; which means I spend most of my SM time on web sites, Twitter, Face Book and email. In a nutshell, when I am not working I really care about the weather, sporting events and golf in the Ottawa region.

So what is strong organization to me? Well it is an organization that brings me back over and over again to use it, see it and spread it to friends, family and co-workers; after all isn’t this what SM lends itself to in the first place? Communication!

We all have to admit that there are plenty of choices on where we can get our information, some more reliable than others and some not so friendly to use. I think that is what draws me to some of these SM platforms in the first place and keeps me there as long as the tools are useful to my needs.

Strong Organization

the-weather-network-logo

Courtesy Theweathernetwork.com

The Weather Network ranks up there for me as one of the top SM users with an effective platform. It has a web site with a wealth of information which can be geared to your specific needs such as a golf report, road conditions, weather maps and a trending forecast tool. The site can be personalized with your own profile (account set-up). The WN has apps for PC and Mac; weather updates and alerts can be sent via email, text, RSS feeds and Twitter. There are mobile apps, tablet apps and even a mobile web platform. If you want the weather, need the weather, they will get the weather information to you any which way you want it.

Personally I have tried many different options for this crucial golf weather information and this site (along with many of its apps) provides the best one-stop-shopping option for me; that makes it a strong organization.

The Sports Network is also one of my favourite platforms which delves deeply in the SM world. Setting aside the obvious that Canada is hockey nation, and this site does have as its main focus hockey, it is not solely a hockey news site. It is an outstanding sports news site with national and international sports coverage. The site includes a personalized daily e-newsletter (free account set-up required) for only the news you want on the sports and teams you want. This site is also an excellent blog site as well as a source of podcasts. This site also includes live broadcast feeds (including scoreboard), TSN Radio links, and highlight videos. One of my favourite parts of this site is the “It’s Your Call” feature on most of the articles. This feature lets the reader provide comments and interact with each other (although the content can quickly become off topic) on the news item. The feature also includes and interesting thumbs up/down option.

If you follow any sport you are more than aware that there are more sport sites than you can shake a (hockey) stick at so keeping your audience in this market requires an active SM platform and TSN does this in my estimation.

Weak Organization

irish-hills-logo

irishhillsgolf.com

Though it pains me (as a member of the club) Irish Hills Golf and Country Club does not do a very effective job with its SM possibilities. Nor do I believe it to have a strong SM strategy (through conversation with the club manager and pro-shop manager). In comparison to many other local golf courses this organization has a weak web site; no online booking feature, no reference to their Face Book page (you have to guess they have one), some pages still under construction, and very few pictures of the course or facility. No Twitter account.

With the current trend of golf in decline in Canada and with six courses for sale in the Ottawa region the fight for the golf dollar is at a premium and getting players out to the course is a must if any golf course is to survive. Speaking for myself and a few friends we love to book online and this is a feature that Irish Hills needs to address and soon if it wants to keep up to most of the competition. Another interesting tool could be the use of Twitter as an alert tool for the club members (or any other follower) to advise of current playing conditions (frost delays) or tee time delays due to tournaments or other weather related issues (Thunderstorm). These are only a couple of options that could be used to improve their SM presence.

With a short playing season any course needs to attract as many members as possible but those remain steady for the most part; the extra dollars come outside the summer months of June/July/August when the avid golfer is looking for tee times and especially early and late in the season when those same avid golfers are looking for an open course to just get out and play. Providing online booking (with a view of all open times), course conditions and open/closed status can only help in the fight to remain relevant in a declining market and get those green fee players who prefer to not be a club member but play on different courses.