Ok, not an ulcer, but this post has been stewing for a few days and I think it’s finally ready to be served. But first, one of my favorite quotes from The Art of War (one of my Top 10 books), with my own addendum…
Keep your friends close,
and your enemies closer.
~Sun-tzu (Approximately 400 B.C.E.)
And keep your business associates as far the eff away as you can.
~PR Cog (November 24, 2009)
Last week, great PR practitioner, David Spinks reminded us on his blog that he’s here (on social media sites, etc.) for business and not to be our friends. For him it seems, if friendship develops, that’s great, but it’s not his primary purpose.
The only thing that’s really preventing me from getting completely up in arms is his response to the blog post’s first comment: “You’re absolutely right that we have to remember that everyone is not here for that purpose that you may be.”
Earlier in the response however he asks, “There are people in the social media space that are here just to make friends? Who? lol There may be some people who act like they’re here just to make friends, but I doubt that’s the real case.”
In case you’re wondering — I’m raising my hand David. (So is my proper self (who never talks business on Twitter), my Rabbi (who much to my chagrin is on Twitter), my Liberal Arts department head (with tenure) from college (who pretty much only talks about music by the Beatles and G. Dead on Twitter), etc.)
Need proof of my own intent? How would a person with no traceable identity get or drive business without revealing themselves? (And yes, until a few weeks ago there were under 10 people (PRBC-ers included) who knew my first name, and I believe 4 who knew my full name.)
Need more proof? In the half dozen or so events I’ve had the honor of pulling (or assisting in pulling) together between Masquertweet and PRBC never has a single dollar stayed in my pocket, an organization that I’m formally affiliated with benefited fiscally, or any business come my way.
Nota Bene: In case anyone is still confused, the name on Facebook is not my real name. Properly read it should be PeteR COGnoscenti i.e. PR Cog (Cognoscenti does actually mean something – http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cognoscente . The name is a joke but FB requires a real looking name and so I grew one…). I still introduce myself as Peter in-person since it makes more sense for those not in-the-know.
My single greatest SM joy (and I think I’ve posted this elsewhere) is introducing people, who don’t know each other, but I believe should. That’s certainly not business (unless you’re actually a matchmaker). But from what I’ve seen, and the thanks I’ve received, has been highly successful.
In part, I doubt the veracity of your post. Not that you’re being dishonest, but rather that you’re really here for equal(ish) parts work and play, but that doesn’t make for great copy and given the option it’s always better to take the high (“professional”) road. You seemed to be having a good time (socially) at the meetup a few weeks back (which is the point, of course so it’s not a negative) and I didn’t see much work going on and yet the entire event was strung together based on social media. Entirely possible I missed the work component but I likely would’ve heard about something that out of the ordinary (all kinds of tidbits make their way around – it’s a bit spooky really).
In part, I’m highly offended. You want to do business — grand. Then your bio (and anyone else who’s here just with work intentions) should only show business information and leave anything personal out. For me, I’m rarely more annoyed than when a casual conversation turns into a business pitch. I’d also be highly disappointed to discover I may have subjected guests at a social event to a sales pitch of some variety. As indicated above, I don’t think this happened at our event, but for those with a single minded purpose it doesn’t seem like it would be a great leap.
Do I shun those on social media sites that are here for business primarily or solely — of course not. But at least say so when we first interact, not some 6 months later (you started following me on June 29th — I don’t have the reverse date though). For me intent is a big part of any motivation — a pure, honest intent can go far to correct mistakes. Bad intent on the other hand … well, as they say, GIGO.
One point of clarification – do I believe there is gray between pure biz and pure play — of course. It’s a large gray area IMHO that most of us fall into. There is a vast difference between learning from our peers and colleagues in the course of conversation and coming to this playground with the specific intent to build your (or your company’s) brand or business. Heck, I gain insight into our biz in social settings (even from non-PR-folks) all the time — I wouldn’t presume to call that business.
I came here to talk and play. You came here for professional reasons. I’m certain those I ‘speak’ with regularly know my intent when I engage with them.
Special thanks to Alex Tan for playing Devil’s Advocate (Factoid: an actual job in the Roman Catholic Church) with me over the last week.