Saturday, 28 January 2012

Visual media and how TV ruined your life.

Listening to radio whilst driving in rural Southland as a discussion came up that effectively the internet is increasingly becoming our memory extension, especially younger people. Majority of us are now so heavily dependent on the internet to be disconnected or unable to access it is like losing as friend. I’ve grieved a few times this week as my 3G connection to the world dropped off.

Fact is we are very good at knowing how to source the information, it’s just the fact we are less likely to retain the information in our own brain! Being constantly bombarded with thoughts, ideas, observations, misinformation, trivia, facts, images. But don’t blame the Internet for you’re state of numbness and less cognitive state, blame TV.

By now the majority of us have grown up in front of a box watching advertising, entertainment, and so called news since the fifties. Back then it was our link to the world, we had serious looking news announcers, chosen for their repose pronunciation of the English language informing us of world events. We connected to television land where life was good and everything worked out well by time the credits rolled.

Slowly but surely we were exposed to the darker aspects of life on planet earth. Any crisis, regardless of how far away it was beamed into our lives, we became exposed to stressful situations that pervious generations might have only faced once in there lives. Cold war doom; the precursor to today’s global terrorism threat, made us all fearful.

As for advertising, where do you start? Suffice to say our early addiction to television and exposure to aspiration marketing drives our irrational need for a “lifestyle”, “ the perfect body”, “security” and need to have it all with no effort expressed in our love of unquestioned consumerism and sex. All this deeply embedded in our brains by advertising.

Whilst TV viewing is in decline we have all gravitated over to computers and we continue the same addiction to entertain ourselves, shop, and justify a sense of belonging without interacting with other people face to face.

I am being cynical, but also retrospective. In doing so I am trying to get you to think about future implications of visual media on the way you interact with others. This dependence on technology as our bank of knowledge, not our brain needs to be countered. As it is not productive, nor constructive to creativity or individual thought. We might as well become robots, like the Borg on Star trek (bloody TV!) here to assimilate resistance is futile.

So write more, exercise your cognitive abilities as well as your body, engage with real people face to face as often as possible. Question things, retain credible information, be disciplined in your use of time and actions. Hopefully you can lessen your addictions to TV and the internet. You will find you develop better empathy and emotional engagement with others both in professional and personal life.

End note:

Writing this blog I am currently operating in one of the remotest and most sparsely populated parts of the planet, Southland, South Island, New Zealand. (I’m only 4900 km from South pole at moment) where there are vastly more animals than people there are (checked and verified NZStatistics and a quick head count): 484,076 cows, 4.5 million sheep and god knows how many wild/feral animals versus 94,200 Southlanders!

Internet connection is intermittent as is mobile phone coverage. But everyone knows everyone, and as long as you have a positive attitude and smile on your face the locals will make you feel at home. They are genuine people who exceed in many ways (see attchment)

Technology and internet is used as productive tools to enhance productivity. For instance some cows here are being milked robotically and I am only a stone throw away from a successful vertically integrated sheep milking enterprise so I might drive over and have a yarn and some sheep icecream.

Take care until next time, when I will blog more about relevant talent shortages in primary sector and how to deal with it.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Professional networking: How to strengthen potential business relationships

Have you written down or clearly defined a reason for being on social media? One stark reality of social media is that you cannot control what people are saying about you as a company or individual. So it is critical to develop a positive professional presence in select, relevant, targeted social media and measure it.  

Twitter for instance is one hundred and forty characters of commentary/link bit like a SMS text that anyone can “follow” or “retweet” that is the uncontrollable part. However you can decide who to follow and the content you “tweet”.

For instance our policy on Twitter (@AgCareersNZ) is to apply the “don’t alienate and no regrets principal” to a posting. Only relevant job or informative industry related topics or links are to be tweeted.

Core purpose or benefit(s) of Twitter are definitely instant alerts about who mentions your brand, Secondly it allows you to follow key influencers and finally getting the scoop on ground-breaking news tweeted well before traditional news media get the story out.

For instance NZTE tweeted “this is major! RT @nz_tech: kiwi blogger sells blog to US company for US$5 million (with the link to the story). I might (a very big might) read that in this Friday’s newspaper. Another tweet 22 hours ago alerted me to someone I want to connect with. Tom Phillips Tweet about KiwiNet bringing agriculture and technology together had the abbreviated link to the article on… via @computerworldnz, nice!

So that’s really the core benefit of Twitter: seeing brand mentions, following key influencers and instant news updates or links to latest articles.

Facebook is for Friends, not acquaintances, not business contacts and certainly not for B2B markets. Why you ask? Well whilst it is with out a doubt the most dominant and popular social network site it is Facebook’s poor past performance at protecting privacy and information posted is poor. Recent exercise to customize privacy settings required fifty-three settings to be changed. So our presence on Facebook is minimal and privacy settings are set to absolute minimal. With a posting saying happy to connect to close friends, otherwise connect to us on our professional network.

As for Linkedin well we embraced that as it provides good market intelligence and a way to keep those connected to you informed. Again content is king as is the quality of those you connect to they should reflect your target market, with the occasional good-to-know business contact in the mix.
I frequently use LinkedIn as my follow-up tool when I’ve met someone with whom I’d like to stay connected. Its most likely I will have their email address, thanks to the business card they gave me at an event, So you can send a them a LinkedIn invite using it.

One major caveat though is that you absolutely, positively need to write a personalized note in the invitation to connect. This means you have to go to their profile page first and then scan the right side of the page for the yellow “Connect” box and check off which type of connection might apply (colleague, classmate, friend, etc.). Be ready to supply the email address you have, if necessary, and definitely edit the canned message in the personal note box on the screen.

Trust me, you’ll differentiate yourself from the masses if you personalize your message. Most people don’t, for some reason. By doing so, you’re more likely to create some good social capital, as well as get your invitation accepted. After all that’s what it is all about! I rarely accept an “Invitation to Connect” unless the person sending it has taken the 10 seconds to write a brief note or at least remind me of how we met.

Here’s an example of something I might write:

“Gwen, I really enjoyed hearing about your career goals for 2012 and, if I can be of any assistance to you in the New Year, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s stay connected via LinkedIn and I hope you have a happy holiday season.”


Dear John,

Happy New Year. At AgCareers New Zealand we believe that people make the difference. So I invite you to my Linkedin network to discuss sector opportunities & issues in 2012

Mike Malone AgCareersNZ Informed Source & Connector

But remember more important than the technology, the latest widget/gadget/app. You are dealing with real people, most of them in Agriculture so there needs to be some good o’l fashion rapport, some emotional engagement. So still value the opportunity to meet face-to-face and communicate well. Social media is just another tool so use it wisely, use it well and have a positive inspiring start to 2012.

Next blog will be focusing on visual media and how TV ruined your life.


Mike – The bloke who likes to keep Informed and meet real people.