eNetworking means business

All of us conducting business on eNetworking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and the others are running into a problem: a growing number of companies and other organizations are coming up with policies that ban the use of so-called “social networking” at work.

Th Enet 0912 01

By John Keller
Editor in Chief

Th Enet 0912 01
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All of us conducting business on eNetworking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and the others are running into a problem: a growing number of companies and other organizations are coming up with policies that ban the use of so-called “social networking” at work. While it’s difficult to characterize the depth of this mistake, we have ourselves at least partially to blame.

Why us? Because we use the poisonous term “social networking,” which to the uninitiated means socializing, not working. We’ve seen the cute stories in the press about Twitter and Linkedin, and with that kind of media play, who could blame many in the business community who perceive activity on these sites as play time, not work time?

Well, it’s time to put a stop to this, and the first thing we can do is quit using the term “social networking” when describing the use of eNetworking sites for business. Start using a term that means business, like eNetworking, business networking, or even B-netting. Personally, I use eNetworking to describe how I push out editorial content and commentary related to Military & Aerospace Electronics on Twitter and Linkedin.

I wish I had started doing this earlier, because there are distressing trends on the horizon. Our own internal audience-development research indicates that companies we serve with information every day have policies in place, or are contemplating policies, to prevent their employees from using eNetworking tools while at the office. This is all based on the false assumption that time spent on eNetworking is wasted time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Companies might be able to fight eNetworking for a while, but doing so is a lot like the last dinosaurs eating the first mammals. You might prevail today, but time is not on your side.

It can be exhausting conducting business in a world that changes not just daily, but hourly. The eNetworking phenomenon is a disruptive technology; it’s frustrating and bewildering, but it also will take us to the next step in electronic communications. We don’t have much say in the matter; this is the way it’s going whether we embrace eNetworking or not. I think the experts are right who predict that conventional e-mail will be obsolete, replaced by eNetworking technology and whatever it leads to.

If we’re going to keep pace, then the time to get on board with eNetworking in the workplace is now—not tomorrow. Our business allies and competitors are amassing large followings of important contacts in eNetworking. These lists of eNetworking contacts are every bit as important as our customer e-mail lists. As we gather a critical mass of important business contacts as followers, friends, fans, whatever, we can control our business communications like never before.

This has tremendous implications for publishing, public relations, retail, and all kinds of business-to-business ventures; any business that must communicate with its customers to succeed will rely on eNetworking technology, if not now, then eventually. Companies that are holding back on eNetworking must understand that their competitors are not…which leads me back to this notion of banning eNetworking in the workplace. It’s kind of like banning the telephone because of its potential for abuse. Just like a telephone, eNetworking is a critical business tool today, and will grow even more so.

eNetworking represents a fast-moving stream of often-crucial business information that is available to whomever dips into it. It just doesn’t make any sense to keep this information source away from employees who potentially could make the best use of it. If you’re tentative about eNetworking, come on in; the water’s fine.

A special thanks to Chris Burke, president of BtB Marketing Communications, who helped me brainstorm for this piece.

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