I've had a long and storied career in the interactive marketing business.
I was interactive before interactive was cool. Way before.
But the best part of my career has been the incredible variety and diversity of very cool and very smart people whom I've met along the way.
From the agency partners to the other Web marketers to all the vendors and media folks I've worked with to all the various and sundry technology partners to all my vast number of IBM friends...suffice it to say I've been very fortunate and very blessed to have worked with and become friends with the caliber and number of people with whom I have.
Many of those friendships have continued long beyond their initial work scope (changing jobs, ended projects, etc.) and there are others who have faded into the distance, but whom I hear from now and again, and others whom I wonder what became of them.
So when I read on Networkworld today that nearly one in four businesses now block employee access to social networking sites -- sites like LinkedIn and Facebook -- I did a double take.
Are you kiddin' me?
You view social networking sites as a productivity killer? Really?
Look, I'll be the first to admit I like watching Tyson the skateboarding bulldog as much as the next person. Heck, I also just plain like bulldogs, so the fact that they can skateboard just makes them that much cooler.
So yes, there's some frivolity that goes along with social networks.
However, let me also point out this fact: Do you know how many cool and long-lost-friends-and-colleagues that I've heard from via Facebook over the last year. And that I'm still hearing from? People whose fate I had pondered? People whose advice I still valued, or whose expertise I still admired.
People whose talents and skills and knowledge whom I might be able to leverage on behalf of IBM again someday, and who, even if not, I was very happy to be back in contact with -- whether in a personal or professional capacity or both.
Online, what's personal is increasingly becoming what's professional, and vice versa. Locking down the bits streaming in from Facebook and other social networks may seem like a good idea at the time, but it's likely shutting down one of your employees' most powerful networking tools.
We're in a knowledge economy, people. And people and relationships and who knows what and who knows whom are an integral element of the knowledge economy value chain.
And you want to shut that down? Really? Seriously?
As Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, the consulting firm who conducted the study mentioned in the article, "...business should integrate social networking and other Web 2.0 tools 'into every facet of the organization, from marketing to internal employee communication.'"
For the record, we're doing that inside and outside the IBM Corporation, and never have so many communicated so much to so many with so much efficiency.
Yes, social networking requires some adjustments with how information is shared and with whom, although more of them are cultural and process-oriented than technological.
But if you really want to see your organization lose its vitality and productivity, go ahead, shut down the social networking Intertubes.
Pretty soon, you'll find yourself like Tom Hanks and his friend, Wilson, in the movie "Castaway":
Stuck on an island.
Wondering how in the world you can get back in touch with everybody back at the office.
Talking to a volleyball.Read More]