Using Social Media to Solve Your Problems

Any time I talk to IT professionals about using social media, they typically fall into two different categories: those that understand and love it and those who say ‘I don’t have time for that stuff’. Part 2 of this series will discuss how you can use these tools to your advantage.
If you are in the former group, you know that it’s one of the most powerful resources at your fingertips (not to mention for FREE). For those that fall into the last group, quite honestly, I’m writing this article for you. Let me start by telling a story of how you can solve your number one issue listed above – time.

Lotus Traveler was released back in the fall of 2009 and, as it was in beta, I had read many blog articles and tweets from IBM Business partners who were testing. IBM released the gold version and I spent a few minutes (seriously, just a few minutes) upgrading to the latest Domino release and installing Lotus Traveler. Morning came around and I got my iPhone user to test it out. On the first pass, an error kept appearing. Now, I had several choices.

  1. Search IBM’s site and try to find a technote. But it was so new (just hours old), there may not be anything posted just yet.
  2. Call IBM support, but that would be hours just to get a return call and again, may not find my answer.
  3. Post my question out to the social media of my choice.

So my next few minutes went something like this.

Tweet: Getting a Lotus Traveler Error: “error message here”. Looking for some quick help if anyone has any thoughts. TIA
IM pops up: Hey Denny, how are you? Not bad, you…(you get it, small talk and then) I’ve run across this from time to time. Let’s try this….
Within a few mintues, my user (who is on Sametime IM internally) says ‘It’s working!’ Problem solved and it only took a few brief moments using Social Media while I was working on many other things. So, now you’re thinking, “Great for you, you’ve obviously got these connections. What about me?” Well that’s what will talk about here.
Where do I start? What do I do? As an IT professional, you have several choices.

LinkedIn is a good first step.
It’s one of the most business appropriate tools you’ll find. Most employers don’t think of it as a ‘Social Media’ tool and appear more prone to letting you ‘play’ on this outlet. It is used to make connections, find and provide information and possibly locate a new business. Here’s how you get started:

  • Create your ID
  • Update your profile
  • Send out some invites
  • Get connected

Now, search for groups. What kind of groups you ask? Well, start with local area groups or groups pertaining to your related industry. The following Linkedin groups below are just some of the groups I belong to:

Over time, your connections on LinkedIn could look something like this:

 

 

 

 

 

Next up, create a Twitter ID.
Now, I know we’ve seen the comics and ads where people poke fun at Twitter and the updates. Technically speaking, you don’t need to use it like that. You don’t have to post anything. You can just follow as many people as you want and take in all the information they are tweeting. Start to follow things of interest to you such as:

  • Sports, local news, radio, etc.
  • Find some people in your industry or magazines that you typically read and follow them.
  • Look at who they follow and follow them too. Often, the same connections you have in LinkedIn will be who you start to follow on Twitter.

In time, you might find yourself contributing and posting your own thoughts.

Now, it’s time to get industry specific.
Depending on what you do, it may be harder for some specific industries, however, the internet is a large world. Take me for example, I work a lot with the IBM Lotus Notes and Domino platform. There is a world of resources out there for me. Here are a few that have allowed me to connect and learn more about the software and tools I use daily:

Microsoft focused resources include the following sites:

Other tools that could get you connected over time and I encourage you to check out:

Part 3 of this article will focus on the tools that you could be using internally to connect with your employees. Stay tuned for more social media information that is valuable to you and your organization!

If you have other social media tools that you use, share them here in the comments section below and I’ll keep the posts updated!

One comment on “Using Social Media to Solve Your Problems

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