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Follow through or I’ll spam you

(4/365) :: Golf ThursdaysImage by chispita_666 via Flickr

I'm not a great golfer. OK, let me rephrase that. I’m a terrible golfer.

But of the little I do know about the game, other than the fact that during the summer months more business deals may get done on the course than in the office, following through on your swing is pretty important.

And as our social networks grow, I’d like to suggest that following through is the most important thing one can do to stay ahead of the pack.

As media choices proliferate, messages are easily jumbled. E-mails are missed, voicemails are lost and feelings are hurt. And even when our message does get through, many times its significance is drowned out by a thousand other voices.

But in order to stay relevant in today’s digital world, we are expected to continually update our Facebook statuses, Twitter feeds and LinkedIn accounts, not to mention respond to e-mails and compose instant messages.

Then there’s that pesky telephone to consider.

I know it’s weird, but some folks actually still use the gadget, which was invented in 1876, the same year that the National League was founded in Chicago. (That one is to show all you sports fans that I’m cool and to illustrate that Wikipedia is the neatest thing since sardines were first canned that same year).

But I digress.

One popular twitterer, who has posted nearly 23,000 updates since October 2008, recently posted her take on all the various forms of electronic communication. She wrote: “Too many ways to be connected – text, IMs, emails, tweets, blah, blah. Yes, I get them confused sometimes. Deal with it ;).”


So I guess until those geniuses over at BitMethod figure out a way for us to communicate telepathically, cutting out the need to develop technical skills or to meet people in person – wow, think of all the time I could spend watching “Mad Men” – I guess we’ll continue to spend our weekends memorizing passwords.

Heck, by the time I finish writing this post, some prodigy living in his mom’s basement will probably launch a new online social networking tool like Foursquare and I won’t have time to go outdoors anyway.

Ten years ago, a good rule of thumb was to give people three days to respond to an e-mail or telephone call before getting too worried. Today, if I don’t hear back from a friend, source or a professional contact within 24 hours, he or she had better be on vacation or in the hospital.

Then again, I’m coming from the perspective of a working journalist who this morning wrote a 1000-word article on deadline. And that was before breakfast.

So when I can’t get a local media “professional” to respond to an e-mail I sent on June 10 and a voicemail I left on July 21, I get cranky. It’s especially frustrating when I can see that he’s been active on Twitter.

Translation: My press credential says I’m entitled to immediate gratification and instant, unadulterated access to your company’s CEO. So deal with it.

Again, I digress.

Do I always manage to follow through? Nope. Do things sometimes fall through the cracks? Absolutely. Am I super busy? You bet. Is that a good excuse? Not really. Does blowing people off damage my reputation and credibility?

You had better believe it.

In the time it takes me to golf nine holes, a slightly above average athlete could probably run a marathon and still have time to eat breakfast. 

But I do know a thing or two about social networking.

If you want to build your brand, grow your business or advance your career, the best things you can do are play smart, play often, and play fair.

Did I get your attention? I hope so. Did you laugh? You’d better have or I’ll forward your home e-mail address to my friends in the pharmaceutical industry. You know. The ones who deliver those overnight e-mails so you won’t be disappointed when you wake up in the morning.

They will almost certainly follow through.

- Todd Razor

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