How do you view networking tools like LinkedIn, Facebook or even Ecademy?

  1. Something for Generation Xers and the Digital Natives so leave it to the younger generation
  2. Do you mean like Ethernet, cabling and IT stuff like that?
  3. I’ll try it anything once! What is it?
  4. A potentially powerful tool if used in the right way – I couldn’t live without it.

Over the last 6 months, I’ve had many conversations with friends & colleagues about the value of social network sites in the business world. Is it worth the time & effort? Do we have a “social face” which differs from our “corporate face”? Or can we bring the two together to present an holistic person? My personal philosophy is that we are more balanced if there is no difference between the two. Other people instinctively know if you are not genuine.

You may regard these neworks as frivilous entertainment to “poke” your friends & send messages but just fun. A bit like going to see Mamma Mia 3 times! Or is it the adult equivalent of collecting Pokemon trading cards – you have 100+ connections but quantity does not mean quality.

I think you need to experiment and see if it fits with your style. Just connecting to someone you met once just because you can seems superficial. Keeping a connection with someone you worked with or felt an affinity to is different. Now you can stay linked up, no matter where you live, work or what industry you change to. It can also be an opportunity to start a connection with someone whose interests and field of work match yours.

But now we face new ettiquette challenges. How do you politely turn down linking to someone without offending them? It’s even more difficult if you’ve know them a while. It reminds me of my schooldays. It seemed like the end of the world because someone you liked didn’t want to be your best friend. They prefered to sit next to someone else, not you. We don’t like to feel like an insecure child again.

We can now form network groups round our specialities of Medical Affairs or Pharmacovigilance. They offer opportunities to form virtual communities. But we need to inject energy to get them moving and a purpose to give them life. There’s a Medical Information & Communications group just started on LinkedIn. Will it become a virtual coffee bar where we meet up and spark off new ideas or will it become the shop that is always empty? Maybe the DIA conference in October in Slovenia will be the face to face forum we need to bring it to life and give it momentum.

It’s not on the formal timetable but I think it’s one of those topics that are best decided over a glass of wine or a cool beer.

See you in the bar!