This entry is going to deviate from the normal topic matter (oil and gas, energy and legal developments), but I think it will provide a good discussion on how social media in a professional context can be wielded in a way that significantly supplements traditional face-to-face interaction and conversation. I probably come into this area at an advantage in the sense that I have been around technology and social media all of my life – MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, instagram, the list goes on and on. Some of those platforms are unquestionably for pure social sharing and contact – others like LinkedIn, Twitter, and any number of blog websites, however, are increasingly being used by professionals as a way to share tips and tricks in their trade, provide industry updates, and discuss legal developments.
When it comes to keeping up with contacts that you meet in your professional life, the Rolodex of decades ago has now been supplanted by LinkedIn. This is obviously an oversimplification, but the way that I currently describe it to people who are unfamiliar with it is with the three word phrase “Facebook for professionals.” While it can be used to “cold-connect” with virtually anyone who has a profile, I feel it is best used not as a singular vehicle for creating one’s professional network, but as a supplement to traditional networking. This strategy is effective because most professionals are tech-literate enough to have at least one social media profile (oftentimes on Facebook), and many do end up creating a LinkedIn once they see its value and relative ease of use. A few years ago I was not as enthusiastic about LinkedIn because it seemed that there was a disproportionate amount of younger professionals in comparison to more accomplished and experienced professionals, oftentimes the power brokers typically making hiring decisions. Today, I am a devout LinkedIn user – I do not meet often meet colleagues or industry professionals who do not now have at least a rudimentary LinkedIn profile. A few relatives of mine who work in recruiting have also sworn by the efficacy of using LinkedIn for sourcing candidates – anything an aspirational and career-minded person can do to increase their visibility to hiring professionals is probably worth doing.
I recall creating a personal Twitter profile years ago soon after it launched; I was actually in the first group of 100,000 to get a Twitter profile (total nerd fact) – sadly that Twitter handle was deleted years ago. Twitter is a medium that probably requires a bit more coaching to see its professional value, as its not as organically geared and driven solely towards working professionals or career-minded people. Twitter is essentially a mass collection of timely 140-character blurbs, and these blurbs can be employed in any way one’s mind can conceive to a Twitter user’s followers. A news organization can provide breaking news alerts, a mother in Idaho can share baby photos, and a young, enterprising attorney can harness it to share his own industry news or obtain fresh industry news. I realize that it is not necessarily as obvious what the value is for a professional to be connected on Twitter, so I’ll provide a sampling of people or entities that I follow:
- Boutique Energy Law Firms (Burleson LLP, Steptoe & Johnson, Beckmen Law, etc.)
- News Outlets (Wall Street Journal, CNBC)
- O&G Companies (ExxonMobil, Shell, etc.)
- Career-related entities (State Bar of Texas, AAPL, NAPE Expo, DrillingInfo)
- A few personal Twitter pages to both show an interest in them, and for their updates (SUNY Buffalo Law School, San Diego Padres, and the best investor and CNBC contributor on Twitter Josh Brown @ReformedBroker)
It is entirely left to the discretion of the Twitter user to choose what people or entities to follow, allowing for total customization of what you’re seeing and who you’re connected to. I personally usually have two Twitter accounts – a personal one and a professional one – that I keep wholly independent of one another, but some have managed to coexist across both planes of Twitter existence with one account (I’m not so daring).
I think that an interesting and well-written professional blog can do wonders in lifting one’s visibility, but more importantly in demonstrating that one is both knowledgeable in a subject area but is also passionate enough to devote the time, energy and thought required in order to regularly prepare and send out blog entries for nothing more than the satisfaction of sharing information or opinions with those in the industry who might take the time to read it. By committing to regularly doing blog posts, you are more likely to be keeping up with industry developments (assuming you want your posts to be at least somewhat novel and helpful to your readership). I find that for myself, it forces me into not only keeping up with news and issues that are important to those who work in my industry, but to go deeper and think critically about how all of these things interplay with one another. Whereas Twitter is designed more for blasting out short little blurbs, an effective blog is more expositional in nature and allows for more space to communicate an idea.
Implementing the Social Media Hodge-Podge
Effective and regular usage of these three social mediums can do wonders for the career-minded professional in the oil & gas industry, or pretty much any other industry. They allow you to make and sustain important connections (LinkedIn), curate and share interesting news or developments (Twitter), and expound in more detail and at greater length on interesting news and novel developments in your industry (blogs).