While I am not old by any stretch of the imagination, I definitely fall on the “I did not grow up with the internet” side of the ledger. All that means is that I have needed to adapt how I do business to incorporate blogging and social media among other “unnatural” acts. In fact, for a good portion of my career I had to depend on newspapers for “up-to-date” business information and I have grown fond of several sources that have themselves had to adapt to the internet economy. The business section of the New York Times has been one of those trusted venues that have been able to bridge the gap well. One of my new media favorites is LinkedIn. Now, as a result of a partnership between LinkedIn and the NY Times I get the benefit of two favorites of the past and future as they combine forces to help me stay informed and connected all at once.
LinkedIn has hit a new media equivalent of a grand slam with this type of deal. Not only do they have the chance to get their brand in front of over 17 million unique users per month, who are at the very least well-educated and at best quite well-heeled, but they also get validation from an industry giant. When the whole social media phenomenon started to gain traction, there was little talk of it being legitimized by the traditional media powerhouses like the Times and the Wall Street Journal. LinkedIn has crossed a line that probably surprises many but is welcomed by folks like myself, who don’t relate to the aloof approach of MySpace and Facebook.
In fact, MySpace and Facebook may never get a real chance to be mentioned in the same breath as the icons of traditional media. In all honesty, I doubt either of these two high-profile new economy giants gets a serious second look from many of the readers of the New York Times. It’s just a bit too irreverent and often times downright silly to be considered legitimate to this demographic. Enter LinkedIn, with its focus on professional networking combined with its no-nonsense look and feel that allows grown-ups who have real jobs and actual careers to connect with each other in ways that were not imagined just a decade ago. If I sound like a cynic regarding the business value of MySpace and Facebook, then you are perceptive. I know there is value in branding and buzz for a specific demographic via these avenues, but as a true professional networking tool, I think the two darlings of the new economy just don’t cut it. I am sure that I will be accused of “not getting it,” but I am OK with that. LinkedIn and its approach make more sense to me and I can see the value there for my business needs.
Besides, it takes way too much time to keep all of these options up to date, so you are almost forced to decide where the greatest benefit will be for your particular business goals. I haven’t even mentioned Twitter and other buzz creators. If it feels like a lot to keep track of today, I can only imagine what lies ahead. It was just 10 short years ago that e-mail was revolutionizing how we communicate in business and life in general. Now e-mail is just “normal”. It’s almost mundane.
So what lies ahead? I don’t have a clue. I am not a prognosticator or a visionary. Heck, I wouldn’t even call myself an early adopter when it comes to new media. For those of you who have some kind of crystal ball, what do you see in the future for the next generation of social media and networking? Where will this go? I’m not sure, but by the time I have this new world communication and networking figured out, the rules will change. Could you please “tweet” me in the old marketers’ home when they do?