Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.


I want to share with you my personal experience with social software and how it changed my career for the better.

What is social software?
Social software is a subset of Web 2.0 that allows people to collaborate with other people over the web. Examples of social software are blogs, wikis, social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc.), instant messaging, chat, and a whole host of dynamic content sharing tools like YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and many others.

My Professional life before social software
Before I entered the social networking scene, a had a very small network. I had been at the same company since 1995 and did not do a good job of networking with people from previous jobs. In reality, I was basically an unknown entity outside of the walls of the building I worked in. Sure a few vendors and a few consulting firms knew me, but they knew me as a customer only. Over the years I felt the need to pursue opportunities elsewhere to broaden my experience from both a technology and business standpoint. The problem was, I didn't have a network. The only people who knew about my talents where people I worked with and I couldn't let them know I was looking. So for the past five years I applied for job after job through the old channels (job boards, classifieds, etc.). Being on the hiring side of table for so many years, I knew that my chances of my resume getting through HR were as good as hitting the lottery. So I started a journey of improving my credentials by enrolling in back to back Masters programs (Masters in IT and MBA). This made me a highly educated IT professional with no network.

Life after social networking
About a year and a half ago, I started blogging. I started out under a nickname to hide my identity so I could speak my mind without getting myself in trouble, hence the name MadGreek. I quickly found out that blogging provided a way for me to form a great network which is what my career needed. At the time I probably had 15-20 LinkedIn contacts which meant I was not getting any value from LinkedIn (I now have about 240). As I invested more of my personal time blogging, I started collaborating with talented architects, industry analysts, and various other technical IT folks from around the world.

Then I discovered Twitter. I had messed with Twitter for a short while a year ago and didn't see the value. Earlier this year my network, which is several hundred people now, were talking a lot about Twitter. So I tried it again. This time I had a great network to follow on Twitter. So I started following architects, analysts, bloggers, and various interesting people and people started following me. At the same time I started learning so much about IT trends and technologies that my company had no idea about. Through Twitter, I landed several public appearances. I have done podcasts, web interviews, presentations at Gartner and Zapthink events, you name it. All of the sudden, I became a known entity. That was my missing link.

Then I took the big step!
Then I did the unthinkable. I resigned from my job of 13 years even though I did not have a job to go to. Am I nuts? Not really. By reaching out to quality people in my network, I have started discussions about job opportunities with 5 different companies in the last two weeks. I get emails constantly from people in my network with opportunities like VP of architecture, SOA lead practitioner, enterprise architect, and various others. Unfortunately, many of these jobs are not in Florida and require me to move, but some are consulting and others are virtual. I don't even look at the job boards anymore because it is a total waste of time!

In the driver's seat
So now I am sitting in the driver's seat. I have successfully marketed my own personal brand through blogging and public appearances. I know a lot of people in the industry who know a lot of important people. I can now choose the best possible opportunity instead of grabbing the first available job that I can find. I can choose to do something that I have a lot of passion and energy for which is research technology and emerging trends and help people with their struggles in delivering enterprise initiatives. All of this is possible because of the power of social networking. My advice to those of you who dread going to your job each day is get out there and start socializing. Stay clear of religion and politics, respect people's opinions, and enjoy the experience. Remember, recruiters can Google your name once you engage on the web.

It's not just for personal benefit
But social software also provides great benefits for corporations. The last two years I initiated and led a large SOA/BPM effort. These same tools that provided all of the personal benefits I mentioned above, also provided an incredible amount of value to our SOA project. Much of our research came from blogs and wikis. When I was preparing the RFP for the SOA stack, Eric Roch posted this gem. Over time I started collaborating more and more with sharp SOA experts like Eric, the guys from Zapthink, Todd Biske, Brenda Michelson, and many others. We shared real life stories about what has and hasn't worked on SOA projects, what things to think about, what to do and not to do, who the experts are on certain topics, etc. You don't get these types of conversations talking to vendors. They only tell you the good stuff and hide the scary stuff. I truly believe that if it was not for social software, our SOA initiative would not have been half of the success that it is. Now when people from my company attend web casts or conferences on SOA or BPM, they come away saying, "We already know all of that".

Collaborate or Die
In conclusion, those companies or individuals who shy away from social software will eventually render themselves irrelevant. Technology and business is changing so fast that if you don't get "out there" you will be lost in the ways of yesterday, and become as relevant as a Y2K developer. So get out there, build a network, learn from others, share your experiences so we can learn from you and revitalize your career!

4 comments

  1. Alex  

    Thanks, this is very interesting.

  2. studyPark  

    This is true. The article is quite inspiring. Good work. Thank you.

  3. Tawny Press  

    I completely agree, companies or individuals who shy away from social software will eventually render themselves irrelevant.

    You have provided great starting points with, Facebook, LinkedIn,YouTube, Flickr and Twitter.

    Like you, I have grown my network, found collaboration, sources for talent, new business contacts , renewed contacts and in some cases even made some new friends.

    Face-to-Face networking is remains a great networking platform, but I have found social software to enhance my overall networking experience. It provides me a opportunity to learn more about the person or persons, their business, service, background, interests and have a list of discussion points, prior to a Face-To-Face meeting or conversation.

    I would like to add, your network is like a garden, it needs to be cultivated with ongoing activity, cared for and maintained. All which requires a investment of time. Time well worth the investment!

    See you on Twitter @madgreek65 ! Great post.

  4. Mike Kavis  

    @Tawny,

    Yes, it is like a garden and you get out of it what you put into it. Twitter, for example, had little value until my Twitter network grew to 50 and then 100+. It is an incredible tool now for networking but you have to spend the time to weed out the distractions and figure out who it makes sense to follow.

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