I recently attended a reunion in the City of London for ex-‘MFSers’ – back in the mid 90’s we’d all worked at the monopoly breaking MFS Communications (latterly bought by WorldCom). They were a last mile provider of business grade telecommunication products through its own fibre rings. It was a start-up at a time when the term was very ‘new’ in the business world – we joined a company that was digging up the streets of London to provide the services we had sold. Crazy times. Interestingly we had titles such as Business Relationship Manager. No one had ‘sales’ on their business cards.
We worked and played hard, very hard! Looking back, they were career defining moments – joining MFS had made big difference to us all. And 20+ years later, there we were, catching up outside the Corney & Barrow bar in Fleet Place, our old office looking down on us.
Time had clearly been kinder to some than others and although I’d bumped into a few during the intervening years, it was the first time I had been amongst them since I left in ’98. After the obligatory polite handshakes, the banter and stories flowed. I was reminded by a colleague, the time he had left a pair of shoes under his desk for a few months, they went missing and a few days later a poorly spelt postcard arrived by First Class mail – from the shoes, telling him why they had to leave.
Many of my old colleagues are still in telecoms although it’s now referred to by new fancy names, usually with ‘cloud’ in the title. We were all keen to find out how life had to everyone over the years, all were content and happy although I didn’t think people attend reunions when they are down on their luck.
Back in the 90’s we would all be dressed very similar, a dark suit, shirt and tie and hopefully – shiny black shoes. I remember having a challenge with a colleague to find the cheapest off the peg suit in a City shop and wear it to work. An £86 suit won, I’m not sure what a winning price would be today, there’s no Primark in the City of London – where, having just checked online, you can buy a suit for around £40!
Having turned up for the reunion after working from home, I was the most casually dressed – one old colleague rightly stated “you must have something to do with social media”. During the evening, as I caught up with old faces, I would give them the requested update on what I was now doing. In response to some of the blank faces as I uttered the word ‘social’ I dumbed down my explanation to – ‘helping businesses and their employees use social media effectively and grasp social selling’.
With more heads nodding in my direction I knew they ‘got it’ and some owned up to following my posts on LinkedIn. However, the common theme was although they all got the importance of social, all, yes, all of them – said their own LinkedIn profile was poor. When I congratulated one on the new business they had launched and how I had noticed their activity on LinkedIn, they told me “I’m active because it’s not me, I pay someone to post stuff”. I flicked through another’s profile – every post was employer branded – “None of this has a personal touch or tells me anything about you”.
These are all successful people in management positions – they recognise the importance and power of social, know they should have a better LinkedIn profile and know they should be ‘social active’. Recognizing they could do more is the first step, they know if they start programmatic social selling they won’t be leaving cash on the table.
I’m going to help them – how about you?
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