I’m Glad We’re Not All Crazy

raise your hand if you use LinkedIn or FacebookTonight I spoke to an MBA class about “professional networking,” with a heavy slant on LinkedIn. I only had twenty minutes… I can’t even remember the last time I had just twenty minutes.

Anyway, I asked the class of thirty-two students “how many people had a LinkedIn account?” About four or five.

Of course, most would have Facebook accounts, I thought.

Only two had Facebook accounts.

First, I was blown away that Facebook’s [previous] target demographic had a smaller representation in that class than LinkedIn did. Isn’t FB about twice the size of LI???

Second, I was blown away that this hip group of MBA students was not really big into online social networking. According to everything I’ve read lately, the only way to not have an account on either of the two was to live in a cave.

The class proved that notion wrong. While it’s cool to “participate” in online social networking, I think it’s great that most of these people hadn’t started yet. Hopefully they are building relationships outside of the classroom, and outside of the virtual world.

My world is too myopic 🙂

Oh yeah, I asked how many of these bright, sharp MBA students followed ANY blogs. None.

Hopefully they’ll start soon (I know a great blog you can follow :p).

14 thoughts on “I’m Glad We’re Not All Crazy”

  1. As someone who is just graduating from a Masters program, I have to say that blogs and social networking sites were a great part of my education. Not because they were required (they weren’t) or encouraged (I’m not sure my professors even know what a blog is), but because they filled in the gaps. Blogs are real, they’re about what actually happens… they’re not an academic analysis. And they’ve been so helpful to me.

    Coming from that viewpoint, I’d be a little worried about the MBA students you talked about above. Yes, they could be using their time to make face to face connections, and build strong networks personally and through older means. But they might not. Not all students build for the future when they’re in school–many of them are way too occupied with school work and their personal lives.

    MBA students are too old to be a part of the original Facebook crowd. I see this because my graduation year was one of the first to be a part of Facebook. Most of the students from my year have used it, but not the year above me. The age gap is really clear.

    And if the students aren’t reading blogs yet, or doing anything with social networking, they’re also missing out on the movement of older professionals towards Facebook and LinkedIn.

    Jason, you could be right that the students are refreshingly networking the old-fashioned, personal way. And that they’ll eventually jump in.

    But there’s also one thing to remember: business schools are the ones who have trained many of the current company leaders who are resisting blogs and social networking. Perhaps the students are being trained to think Web 2.0 is just a silly fad that they shouldn’t bother getting involved with.

    If a MBA student is trying to learn how to be a leader of the future, it’s never a good idea to bury one’s head in the sand and ignore the changes that are sweeping through the business world. Blogs and social networking are very important right now, and if those MBA students aren’t aware of that… maybe the teaching they’re getting is out-of-touch.

  2. Katie, I only had 20 minutes 🙁 There was a lot to say, and none of it had anything to do with blogs. I followed up on this post with another post about building intimate relationships, where I say that my blog has been the most significant thing for me in developing relationships. I think it is sad, indeed, that business students aren’t *required* to follow blogs, comment on them, start their own, etc. I encouraged the class last night to find blogs in the industry that they want to go into. I figure that’s a good first step. You make excellent points, and perhaps one day I’ll get to speak to the class about them.

    Dan, nope, it was in Salt Lake City, at a well-respected private school with a great MBA program. I finished my MBA a few years ago, and had no idea what blogs were, I’d be interested in knowing what professors or instructors are encouraging it. The absolute best I’ve seen in Andy Sernovitz, who is an instructor (he has a huge business on the side) in Chicago, and it looks like he’s on his second round of students blogging on NUWOM.com. Not only is he having them blog, but they are also following blogs, commenting on them, etc. What a TERRIFIC exercise! Ah, if more colleges, especially in the business departments, followed this example.

  3. I live in Metairie, LA, a suburb just outside New Orleans. I understand that Katrina turned us into a third world country but even before that there were very few people following blogs and using social networking. Katrina actually helped us move forward technologically. During the storm many people discovered text messaging because it was the only thing that worked because it used less bandwidth than a call. SO, Chris what does this have to do with Jason’s article? A lot, actually.
    People in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and in places on the East Coast like Boston New York are exposed to technology on a regular basis and probably know someone who is a software developer or has a job in the tech industry. In the Midwest, the deep south, and a lot of other places people don’t blog, or Twitter, or use Facebook, or LinkedIn, or even MySpace. They are living their lives, watching the evening news, and maybe checking their email, which is mostly spam and they don’t see what the big deal is. They still call their friends on the phone, look in the classifieds when they want a job, they may have even try that “online banking thing” they saw on TV.
    Joe six-pack is not as connected as you would like to believe and even though most college kids are WAY more connected than their parents, the blogosphere and social networks are heavily dominated by people in the tech sector and kids in larger cities. When I tell me friends that I have a blog most of them say “what’s that?”.
    There really is a digital divide in this country and it’s getting smaller every day, but in some places it’s a chasm that many are afraid to cross.

  4. Same applies when I’m in front of a gaggle of people who want to learn how to telephone names source. Only a handful (typically) raise their hands when I ask if they know what LinkedIn is.
    Fewer when I ask how many have accounts!

    Same thing, though, when I ask for a show of hands about how many of them know what telephone names sourcing is. Go figger!

    This information is not to be re-published for commercial purposes in any form without my prior written permission.
    Maureen Sharib
    Telephone Names Sourcer/MagicMethod Trainer
    513 899 9628
    TechTrak.com, Inc.
    maureen at techtrak.com

  5. Chris, no problem on the typos… your comment is the exact reason why I put “my world is too myopic.” This is an interesting topic, and I can see myself sitting on different sides of “they should really know about it – shame on professors” and “hello, this is reality, folks.” Sometimes, I think as bloggers and those that are involved in technology, we tend to think that everyone is online, everyone reads blogs, everyone comments, etc. But there is a huge world out there, outside of the blogosphere. That means that there are opportunities to get others to come into this world, AND/OR there is a need to get messages and issues out in different formats.

  6. What an interesting discussion… I have been blogging for 11 months on Monday. I say that only to say, that prior to 11 months ago, I didn’t know anything about blogging other than CNN mentioned it every now and then at the end of different segments. I considered myself somewhat knowledgeable and computer/internet savvy.

    I knew nothing in a word. I could have continued in my ignorance or I could begin he process of learning. Blogging has opened up my world in a very interesting way. Specifically, I am connected to people across this country and outside of this country, that I didn’t know 11 months ago. Not only am I connected to a lot of people some of these new people and I are developing relationshoips and I have never spoken to many of them or seen them in person. My point, I believe it is a mistake for anyone, MBA student, professor or otherwise, to not at least have some understanding of what is going on technologically in our society. Am I saying everyone should be a blogger or follow blogs or be in a social network? NOPE! I am saying we should know about them, and the value they may or may not bring in our lives. How can they lead or impact business if their knowledge is limited to what ever they get out of the books or from their instructors?

    Interview Guru

  7. Jason, I wasn’t implying that you should have spent the 20 minutes ramming the need to get on LinkedIn or blogs into their heads. Just lamenting that those really smart students weren’t becoming a part of the amazing online world.

    Perhaps I’m jaded from too many years of seeing professors teach things that are out-of-touch and out-dated. My immediate reaction was that it was a failure of the business school to at least make those students aware of the possibilities out there.

    And it’s true that many, many people have no clue what’s going on online. I’m reminded of that everyday in Germany when I say something and am rewarded with a blank stare (and not just because of my horrible German.) In the real world, blogs are still quite uncommon, and it’s good for us to remember that.

    But I believe that since those MBA students are training to be leaders in the business world, it’s a real shame that they’re not aware of the significant effect that blogs are having on it. And they’ll be at a real disadvantage when they do have to face the blogosphere on graduation.

  8. I was one of the students in Tuesday’s class and because of the brief nature of the presentation we weren’t able to say thanks for coming out to speak to us. We tend to have quite a bit of information crammed into those three and a half hour sessions; I wish there had been more than twenty minutes. We appreciated your time and your remarks.

    I also wanted to comment of some of the other thoughts that have been posted out here. You made mention in your October 10th comment that “Many in the class were not excited about ‘professional networking’ because their idea was that people pass business cards…” Unfortunately that is an accurate statement; however the college is working to do something about it.

    The class you spoke to is one of the first core courses required in the MBA program. Most of the students completed undergraduate degrees at different institutions a number of years ago. I actually finished my undergrad here and decided to continue on in the MBA program as well. During my undergrad the value of networking was heavily emphasized and students were shown how to put it in practice. I’m sure that throughout the remained of the MBA program those new to the institution will come away with the same understanding and the business card mentality will quickly disappear.

    I still have questions regarding online networking that we didn’t have time to address in the short Q&A session. Your comments on LinkedIn were very helpful, however as noted in your posting, we didn’t have sufficient time to cover blogging. Until Tuesday I had never really considered blogs a networking tool. A number of people have commented that lack of exposure to blogging could be a disadvantage. I’d be interested to hear thoughts about what someone new to this should know. What types of blogs should you look for? How to you find those that are most relevant? What types of questions should I be considering as we venture out into this new territory?

  9. Hey Chris, Welcome to the conversation!! Very brave of you to jump in. I want to take a stab at answering your questions, though I trust that others will share their thoughts as well.

    1. What should someone new to blogging know about blogging? My first thought is that blogging is very fluid, ever evolving. As different as we are from one another as people, I would say that you will find that every blog and/or blogger is different. People within a particular niche may write about similar things, but it is the differences in perspective and presentation that make blogs interesting.

    2. What types of blogs should you look for? What ever you are interested in, from sports, to business, to cooking, etc. you will probably find a blog on the subject. And if you don’t find a blog on a particular subject or hobby, start one. 🙂

    3. How to find blogs that are most relevant? JibberJobber is a great place to start, from here, click on some of Jason’s links on the sidebar. They will take you to other blogs, or websites. From one site, you can go out and find other sites. Click on links with posts you are reading and most likely it will take you to a different blog. And on it goes…

    4. What types of questions should I be considering? The questions will come to you as you venture deeper out here in the blogosphere.

    Lastly, I would recommend http://www.problogger.net. It is a great site to learn about blogging, and there is community of people out there that follow that site. Lots of interesting information about blogging.

    Those are my thoughts. Good luck in your new adventure. I have enjoyed my journey so far.

    Interview Guru

  10. Surprising and interesting observation. I did almost the same this last week with a group of senior buying professionals in New york and 10 from 15 were on LinkedIn and 10 on Facebook! I think it depends on who you ask the question to be honest.

    For me though one thing is certain – social networking = the future!

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