Jun 13, 2008

Alan Weiss on Consulting and Social Media

Dr. Alan Weiss is of the opinion that blogs are of not much use if you are trying to leverage them to build a consulting brand.

Here are some of the interesting observations:

1. Blogs are only effective if you already have a brand. People come here, or go read Seth Godin, or Marshall Goldsmith, or Jeffrey Gitomer, or David Meister, because we’re all well known in our areas of expertise. That is, a blog follows a brand, not the other way around. You can’t create a brand just with a blog, unless you’re ridiculously lucky, and business can’t be based on luck.
3. You can use up all your time following blogs. Buyers of consulting services don’t visit blogs as a rule, and certainly not to make buying decisions. They may visit a blog AFTER they have a relationship with the consultant, which just proves my point.
4. Twitter is pretty nonsensical. Watching someone wash their hair or walk to their car is irrelevant to marketing consulting services. It is idiosyncratic. I think it’s fine if people want to do this as a hobby, but for solo practitioners and entrepreneurs, it can drain your life away. It is to marketing what text messaging is to writing a novel.
5. YouTube I find useful in that you can access some outstanding resources there, such as the lectures given at TED. But you also find all the schlock in the universe, and there must be a law that, to post comments, you have to have flunked both basic English and civility in primary school, because the proportion of dolts and louts who post things is frightening. It’s like being at a hockey game, but you can’t get a hot dog.
6. Facebook, linked-in, and all the rest of the social crawl space is fine for trying to get a full time job, or finding out who’s divorced, or sharing your latest hairstyle, or flirting. I abhor the linked-in automated messages about “good friends” who have asked me to join their network whom I can’t even recall, and I find it reprehensible to dump your entire contact list into this morass and annoy everyone who’s ever written you an email or sent you an overdue notice. I find linked-in to be the worst kind of spam.

Provocative? Maybe.

Dr Weiss does make some points. Don't make blogs/social media the "only" source for building your consulting brand. Speak at seminars. Network at industry events. Write for journals. Maybe, even publish a book.

Unless you wish you consult only about social media.

I'm kind of ambivalent about his observation that business can't be based on luck. Innovative business, alas is about a lot of luck. How do you ensure that you beat the chance factor. You increase your variety and spread. That's one of the rules of 11 1/2 weird rules of Innovation according to Dr. Bob Sutton. And sometimes you count on luck, to explore:

When you know that you need to head in a new direction, but you don't know which road to take, sometimes the best thing is to do whatever is most ridiculous or random. Thinking up the dumbest and most impractical things that you can do is a powerful way to explore your assumptions about the world. When you get people talking about products, services, and business practices that they believe are misguided, dumb, or even destructive, it can help bring the beliefs of the group into broad relief and crystallize what the company should be doing.
So if Alan does not believe that blogging can help in bringing in consulting business, why the blog after all? The About page does not give any reasons why.

Maybe he just doesn't want to be left behind by other consultants who are blogging. Like, Tom Peters.