I was an Idiot. But Never Again!!
I've been an idiot often enough, although I didn't know it at the time.
In 1980, I had the chance to invest $1,000 in a board game. I barely knew the guys. They weren't friends or anything. They were a couple of guys who knew a guy who met me because of a girl who dated another guy. Him, I knew.
I turned them down.
That pursuit ended up being not so trivial.
In 1983 (I think), I blew off an interview with some guy named Bill. Hey, I wasn't looking for a job. Besides, I had never heard of his company. It was Micro-something-or-other and "micro" means "tiny."
That wasn't my finest moment, either.
Apparently, the early 80's was a tough time for me.
Fast Forward to 2003
In late summer of 2003, I was GM of a national tech company. One of our better reps, Shadi, came by my office for authorization to have a website unblocked. He was sure it would help us connect with, and keep in touch with customers and prospects.
We may even be able to generate some business through there, he said.
I had my doubts, but I agreed to look into this Linkiedinkie thing, or whatever it was called. He emailed me the link.
I mean... Really? A business connection website? The term "social media" didn't even exist yet.
But, a promise is a promise. I agreed to take a look, so take a look I did.
A quick call to IT unblocked LinkedIn from my computer.
I created a profile and started poking around. My first impression was that Shadi might have a point. There were other business people there.
I pulled out a list of our top twenty accounts. Eleven of them were LinkedIn members.
Cool, but not cool enough.
I still had doubts.
- Canadian involvement was minimal.
- Membership was heavily weighted between technology and recruitment.
- There wasn't any decent search capability, at least none that I could find.
- The UI was clunky, not intuitive, and just plain old ugly.
- I had doubts whether professionals would embrace the web for interaction.
- I already had a freaking Rolodex (blush). Did I really need an online version? If so, how secure was it?
- There was also this thing about only connecting with people you already know. Huh? What's the point of that? (As an aside, I still don't get that.)
I wasn't convinced LinkedIn would be an asset. Still, I didn't see any harm in unblocking it.
I was about to approve the unblocking on a trial basis when I started getting connection requests.
First thought... Wow! Already?
Second thought... Crap!
Nearly every request was from a recruiter.
Gee, people were looking for candidates exactly like me!
A company in California desperately needed a guy from Montreal. Apparently, no one in California knew anything about tech, building sales teams, or managing a fair-sized business.
Sure... I believe you.... I'm gullible that way.
In the space of about an hour, I had a bunch of connection requests, mostly from recruiters.
Oh, Hell no!
LinkedIn stayed blocked!
I worked hard to build my salesforce. Losing them to better offers is part of the game. That doesn't mean I need to make my people easier to poach.
LinkedIn remained blocked. My account sat dormant until May 27th, 2015.
That's when a man I respect suggested I give LinkedIn another look. Yes, Phil, you're that guy.
The piddly platform from 2003 was all growed-up (as they say). They even had a blogging platform built right in! That could provide the proof of skill set a ghostwriter needs!
I loved it.
I jumped right in. I started with 2 connections, Phil Palmieri and my cousin, Alain Croubalian.
My first Pulse post was on June 7, 2015. Eighty-seven more followed before I moved to beBee in March of 2016.
My original two connections are still around. They've been joined by about 1500 others.
I've managed to build relationships and business on LinkedIn. Sure, some things about LinkedIn bug me. That doesn't mean I hate it. On the contrary, I still find it a viable platform for me.
Yes, my views and reach have been cut tremendously. That may be because of the 4-month hiatus I took from Pulse. For me, four months is a lot of content. Or it may be because LinkedIn is messing with the Almighty Algorithm again.
Who really knows?
Worse is that I notice that my engagement always seems to come from the same few people. Growth is tough to pull off if you rarely get new readers.
BTW: That's just an impression, not an analysis. There are enough impressions floating around disguised as analyses that I don't need to add one more.
Whatever. . . It's no big deal to copy/paste a post from beBee Producer to LinkedIn Pulse.
This is my regret...
When I first looked at LinkedIn it was pretty much useless. I saw the potential. I saw the promise. But, it was of little immediate benefit.
I dumped it.
I should have stuck with it.
Where would I be today if I had kept at it those 12 years? What would be different? I saw a great idea that had a less than great implementation.
I still should have stuck with it. I'm sure things would have been plenty different.
Sure, some things about LinkedIn bug me. That doesn't mean I hate it.
They aren't set up for maximum exposure for the little guy. They are still a lot better than going it alone.
They insist on using algorithms to make subjective judgments. That's just silly. No server will ever figure out what we want. Heck, more often than not, we don't even know what we want.
Looking back over the year, I now see that many of their changes were made with an eye to increasing market value. That was smart of them. That was $23 billion smart.
Now we're stuck with those changes.
No worries, they are still a viable platform for professional connection. I take their 430,000,000 user-base figure with a huge grain of salt. But, 30,000,000 monthly users are nothing to sneeze at.
I really shouldn't have jumped off so quickly way back in 2003. In hindsight, maybe it wasn't as dumb a move as the other two I mentioned, but . . .
I do not intend to repeat that mistake with beBee
beBee is still in its infancy. It's still light-years ahead of LinkedIn circa 2003. We see improvement after improvement with more yet to come.
True, beBee had the benefit of not being first. LinkedIn blazed that trail in May of 2003. Facebook followed the next year. Twitter showed up a couple of years after that.
LinkedIn started social media as we know it. I give them props for that.
beBee gets to pick and choose its path. It gets to learn from its predecessors. I think Javier and Juan learned the lessons well, and continue to learn every day.
Affinity networking means blazing a new path somewhere between Facebook and LinkedIn. It isn't an all-business path because people are not all-business.
People do not do business with Companies. People do business with People.
I was an early beBee adopter. I've seen the changes first-hand. Today's beBee is a far cry from last April's beBee. In six short months, we have seen many improvements. Some have been on back-end efficiencies. Some have been on front end promotion.
The BIG differences
beBee listens. beBee acts. That does not mean they implement every suggestion from every user. C'mon! There are nearly 12 million of us!
You gotta figure that many suggestions will be contradictory. Other suggestions will not suit the overall strategy. Yet others will be great but impossible to implement.
Javier and Juan are interacting every day. They see what works and what doesn't. This isn't their first rodeo, but resources are not infinite.
They get to what needs fixing one step at a time.
It's a kaizen thing.
The changes are night and day over six months. What will the next six months bring? The next 12? 24? 36?
Hives handle distribution: It took forever to get traction with my early LinkedIn posts. Sure, I could post to Groups, and I did. Then the rules changed. I adjusted.
They changed again.
Hives are what Groups were promised to be.
Topics on subjects that match up to active Hives get traction. Posts that are off-topic may still get great views -- that's the whole idea behind Hives -- but they'll earn poor engagement.
That's called, "Life."
Connection is one-way: By that, I mean that there is no permission or vetting process to limit linking up. I can follow whomever I choose. Anybody can follow me.
True, only those who follow each other can communicate directly. It's much easier to build up your contacts on beBee.
It isn't Twitter-easy, but easy enough.
It's also easier to target connections here.
It's those connections that drive engagement. Spare me the "True engagement precedes connection." That's just arguing the chicken vs egg thing. It's an obvious fallacy unless taken in some existentialist way.
It sounds cool, though.
I wonder what my wife will say when I tell her I loved her before I met her?
I don't have the guts to try.
beBee is more marketing-savvy
I recently read a post that complained we ambassadors promote beBee.
No shit, Sherlock. What exactly do you think "brand-ambassador" means?
The thing is, we promoted beBee before we became ambassadors. It's in recognition of that commitment that we became ambassadors in the first place. It too is a chicken vs. egg thing.
I promoted beBee since it's Producer platform came on stream. Even then, I ran my own tests before hopping aboard. I'll continue promoting beBee even if they yank my ambassadorship today.
No one tells me what to promote, what to tweet, what to say, or what not to say.
I don't mind conflicting opinions.
I do mind misquotes, misattribution, innuendo, and personal attacks.
BTW: "innuendo" is not Italian for "suppository."
On one hand, the post equates beBee ambassadors with LinkedIn Influencers. On the other, they say that we provide most of the engagement on the platform.
When was the last time you engaged with a LinkedIn Influencer? I did exactly three times and only once on LinkedIn.
Yes, beBee is more marketing savvy.
Yes, ambassadors interact a lot. That's not because we're ambassadors. We're ambassadors because we interact a lot. We're ambassadors because our values line up with beBee's. It's not the other way around.
Yes, beBee may push your posts to their substantial Twitter and Facebook followings. Yes, we ambassadors may do the same.
Yes, that draws more people to your posts and to the platform.
Why is that a bad thing?
I don't get it.
True Confessions Time
When I first joined beBee, I was not all that impressed. My 2003 experience with LinkedIn gave me second thoughts. John White and Javier mentioned that a blogging platform was on the way.
I reserved judgment.
I had a feeling that the Hive system would be a game-changer. It really needed the Producer capability. I wasn't wrong.
On April 5th, I wrote my first Producer post. It was a review of writing a post on Producer. If you want an idea of just how far we've advanced, read that post here: https://www.bebee.com/producer/@paul-croubalian/to-bebee-or-not-to-bebee-that-is-the-question
Wrapping things up
I've admitted to the three biggest goofs of my professional life. I refuse to make another.
Will beBee live up to the vast promise it holds?
I don't know. I believe it will, but I can't know.
Until I do know, one way or another, I'll promote the heck out of it. If that bothers you, tough. Feel free to unfollow or even mute me. Here, YOU control your feed.
I figure I can do a lot worse than betting on a couple of guys who work with heart, zeal, and commitment.
I'm off to play a game of Trivial Pursuit now.
I'll be the one winning and crying at the same time.
Will you be crying in a few years?