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An interesting conversation unfolded on Twitter today when I tossed out a question that was spawned from this post on BuzzNetworker.

After reading Collen’s take on self-proclaimed social media experts, rock stars and gurus, I posted a rather lengthy comment sharing my views on the subject.

Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote in the comments section of that post:

“…I believe that having been in an arena for a short period of time just might mean that you still have something of value to offer. Maybe you see things that others do not. Maybe you’re not yet jaded and bring a different perspective. Maybe you’ve made a discovery early on that others missed and might find value in. You could be entrenched in it in a way that others have not been. Do you see where I’m going with this? Yes, let’s all be honest, and maybe if some of that is shared in the introductory phase and less emphasis is placed on a title that no one really understands, then we can all continue to learn from those who have something new to offer. So as I type all of this a new word comes to mind. How about “practitioner?”

So, the question I posted on twitter was this:

What’s of more value? A “strategist” or a “practitioner?”

Here are some of the responses:
@ChristineTatum: Depends on what you need. It’s tough to value “practitioners” who have no vision or smart sense of priorities.
And then it’s tough to value “strategists” who don’t know how to put all of their great ideas into action. I just think people’s specific strengths should be respected. Many times, strategists and practitioners aren’t the same.

@feste1: a practicing strategist? srsly–strategist when talking with execs, practitioner when talking with operational ppl.

@beckiparkhurst: re: strategist or practitioner, I think it depends on the goal to determine the value.

@HappyAbout: Typically a “practitioner” is more valuable than a “strategist), but it does depend on the task.

@brandingdavid: I had a chat with a friend about that, and practitioners are what companies want. They don’t want ideas, they want actions! I think in 2009, the words companies will avoid when hiring include: planner, strategist, organizer, etc…They’ll want action people. Specialists that can take their needs and solve them, not just give them a plan to solve them.

And then. Collen responded to my comment on her blogpost with this:

@angela everything you’ve said is dead on… I agree someone with a new perspective can be totally useful, but I still don’t want to see a new perspective calling themselves an expert.

So what do you think? Strategist or practitioner? And just how long do you have to be in practice to call yourself an expert or strategist?

Be sure to post your twitter name at the end of your comment.

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Think about fear for just a minute.
Is it always a bad thing? I would argue that it isn’t and what fear sometimes does is elicit courage, by default. Fear can make us find the biggest, brightest ideas of our lives. It can make us move faster, make quick decisions and throw caution to the wind.
Fear is a tool that, when used accordingly, can push us to greatness.

In my last post: Six ways to get social media buy-in from the boss, the underlying theme was scare the heck out of your boss if he or she keeps pushing off innovation and incorporating social media into the fabric of the organization. It was subtle in may ways, but present nevertheless. One of my suggestions was to accentuate the negative content found about the company through a Google search, and touting the social media efforts of competitors.

Richard Millington, a blogger I read regularly and respect a great deal, reminded me in the comments area that one should be wary of focusing solely on the negatives for participating in social media. He added: “I think it’s also important to have some great case studies from relevant industries, do some twitter searches for your industry’s subject matter and demonstrate how easy it is to reach so many poeple.”

Richard is right.

But some eggs are harder to crack than others. If you work for one of those eggs, you know what I’m talking about. So, consider fear as a tool and add it to your arsenal.

Show them that they are being left in the dust. Make them move faster, make quick decisions and throw caution to the wind.

Scared? Good. Courage is right around the corner!

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If you’ve been preaching about the benefits of social media and urging your superiors to jump in head first, only to find that it continues to fall on deaf ears, allow me to suggest a change in approach. Here are six ideas that may help you with your mission. Use one, or use them all. What’s important is you just keep trying!

  1. Accentuate the negative Do a Google search and find something negative that’s been written about your organization or company. Find several. Send them in an e-mail marked urgent. Use bold type and write something eye-catching in the subject line such as “Oh my God, read this NOW” or “Look at these lies I found on the internet.”
  2. Tout the efforts of the competition. Provide a detailed report about a competitors social media efforts. Illustrate how they are engaging the community and participating in a two-sided conversation. Be sure to send this information about an hour after the previous “Oh my God, read this NOW” email .
  3. Recommend more than one platform. If your boss doesn’t “get” twitter, stop pushing it. Introduce another platform and encourage participation there. This illustrates your social media savvy, flexibility and commitment to moving the organization into the current century.
  4. Explain what it means to be “brandjacked.” One of the first things I say before giving a presentation is this: “If you don’t manage your online reputation, Google will manage it for you.” But that’s not the worst that could happen. Think identity theft times ten. This will surely get their attention.
  5. Have a proposal ready. If you work for a company where every decision has to be made by committee, and only after a series of at least three meetings, you should try speaking their language. Once you are able to garner interest it’s important to be ready to present the benefits in a way the higher-ups will understand. So put a proposal together. Include a chart or two. Just make sure your message is clear.
  6. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. (This one is only for the risky, who feel relatively good about their job security and have a decent relationship with the powers-that-be.) Sometimes you simply have to act and let the chips fall where they may. Consider starting a personal blog with a disclaimer indicating that it’s your work, not your company’s. Start twittering about non-proprietary information. Build a following and then show the results. If you can start something worthwhile, perhaps they’ll let you keep it up and hopefully build even more.

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There’s a fine line between the verb “flaunt” and it’s more docile and giving half-sister: the verb “share.” Some of us need to revisit that little fact.
By us, I mean the early adopters, the bold bloggers, the talented twitterers, frantic friendfeeder’s and facebooker’s, courageous community managers, die-hard digg’ers, excellent evangelists and super-sized social media saints!

Forgive me if you’re none of the above, but you get my drift and I’m betting that at least one of the above descriptions fits you to a tee!

I’ve written a few posts lately where I seemed to go on and on about the lack of social media knowledge that exists among specific industries and the resistance that we all deem futile. In many cases, it isn’t resistance at all. It’s simply a lack of understanding, coupled with preconceived notions of unreasonable time commitments and technological prowess, neither of which are requirements to get in the game.

I attended one conference where we were all discussing Social Media 3.0 just 24 hours after giving a presentation to a large group that didn’t even understand Social Media 0.5. I’m convinced there
are plenty more where they came from and I fear that we could be leaving behind the very people who need us most.

That conference changed me. It made me think very hard about my purpose and the more I think through it, I see an amazing opportunity to teach. As I reach out to those in my various networks who are much savvier than I am, my main goal is to extrapolate every piece of knowledge and wisdom they have to offer to better myself and increase my personal knowledge. I know that we all do. That’s the power of vast networks.
I ask you to turn the tables for a minute and think of all of the people who want to extrapolate your knowledge on the most basic level. Can you give it to them, and in a way they will understand?

If you are a leader of the pack, consider stepping down a notch or two and getting back to basics. Share yourself and what you know. The key word is share. There will be time to flaunt later and that vast network of yours will be waiting for you to do just that.
Remember, if you give a man to fish, he’ll eat for a day. But if you teach a man to fish……

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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