How I learned to stop worrying and love social networking

Today’s post is a guest post by our good Twitter friend Mark Polson.

First of all, I’ll apologise in advance because this short piece is all about me and how social networking has played a huge part in the setting up of my business, the lang cat. Except it isn’t really about me; it’s about the network itself and the role it can play today.

A little about me – I’m a financial services marketing wonk (yes, wonk) with a speciality in the new-style transparent investment platforms that are starting to take the UK market by storm. I’ve always worked for big FS providers – until September last year.

No-one needs to hear a man-leaves-big-company-sets-up-own-consultancy story. But any of you who have been through a process whereby, for whatever reason, you exit a business without knowing what’s next, will understand the mix of excitement, anticipation and trouser-tightening terror that results.

For me, I needed to gauge the possibility of realising an ambition – to work for myself. So when the inevitable revealed itself to me, I turned to LinkedIn and reached out to a couple of trusties. All I was asking was “if I did do this, could I get in touch?” The response was warm – much more so than I expected. A bit of DM-ing on LinkedIn turned into a couple of phone calls, a visit and a possibility of good stuff in the future.

Hmmm, I thought. Hmmm. That wasn’t all that bad. I wonder if I can do it again. So I hooked up with a couple of contacts on Twitter and tried it again. That worked too. Then another Linkedin connection. And so on.

As this progressed over a few months, it occurred to me that these new communication media have changed the world for people like me. A cold call, even to an old associate, is easy to misjudge. A letter or email is good, but awfully easy to ignore in the logjam that is most inboxes. And when you’re not feeling at your most bullish, they can be daunting.

But a connection request with a gentle note, a Twitter DM, a burst of activity on either platform that helps people see what you’re up to and helps sell you; that is somehow calibrated just right for the British way of doing business.

Something else happened during the last 4 months, as I used these new media to reach out. This is going to sound a bit wet, by the way, so watch out. I found a real sense of community and warmth as well as support through my own transition phase. For all its bad rep, my industry has a lot of really good people in it, and the existence of a non-threatening, participative network gives that good feeling a form and a space to grow.

As I write, my little business (you’ll have to visit the site to find out how the lang cat got its name) has 5 deeply physically attractive and self-actualised corporate clients and is reaching the stage where I may have to find someone to help me out a bit. I’m as surprised as anyone.

Here’s the proof point. Every single engagement and lead bar one that I have had has had an element of social networking in it. It’s simply become a part of my communication mix along with email and the phone. I don’t have a social networking strategy for my business. I simply live in that space and connect as much as I can with good people. Sometimes nice things result.

No brand, no marketing really, no flash stuff. Just me talking about subjects I know and enjoy and that I hope will encourage like-minded people to get in touch, or at least not run for cover when I do.

I can’t think of a nicer way of doing business.


Jaime Steele

Jaime specialises in brand strategy, creative concepts, naming strategies, digital media marketing and technical project management. He has a strong background in delivering and managing social media and digital marketing campaigns for both small start-ups and blue chip companies.

He has also worked with many top professional athletes, advising on personal branding, sponsorship and social media.