Kathy Lee Patterson
I have always believed that if you want to gain knowledge or standing, you need to surround yourself with those who are where you want to be. I believe that some of these Internet sites might gain you fractions of knowledge, but recommend that we continue to seek advice from those that have actual field experience and good standing in the industry. The risk of using these sites for professional guidance is that you might be getting advice from someone who "thinks" they know the answer, instead of someone who has the actual experience. My apprehension lies in that BCP professionals might receive disparate advice by using these social sites that could cause negative ramifications in their future planning efforts. I would steer the BCP/DR/EM professional to different Internet groups that have BCP/DR/EM professionals on their boards and that limit membership to industry professionals. I recommend that we use the social sites for just what they are, socializing and entertainment.
Social networking outlets are gaining popularity as a tool for quick reference. There may still be much more substance in white papers, CI articles, ask the EAB, etc. As we get caught up in the "instantaneous BC gratification mode," we have an abundance of tools already in the mainstream and gaining interest. What we still come back to is the need to roll up your sleeves and do the work, put the time in, get people engaged, and show substance and business value in what you are doing. If social networking outlets (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) help you get there, use them. If searching through all of them takes valuable time from your plan development and implementation, it may be good to consider another reference source. As planning develops in your organization, you'll likely have reliable sources of information and reference, but you should remain open to new ideas, concepts, and technology. Perhaps over time, we will be using these outlets on a greater scale.
I don't have any experience with Facebook, YouTube, etc., other than the professional networking tool LinkedIn. However, I polled some of my friends who have Facebook, and I got mixed reviews. The passionate users of Facebook see it as a tool for networking, particularly when you are out of work, and to drive conversations about particular topics to come to resolution. Because these tools are global in nature, you can present topics and information that can reach across global boundaries and share significant information. The media portions can be used to present ideas and thoughts and reach a wider audience that can then comment on the content.
On the other hand, caution needs to be used when utilizing social networking outlets as they are open to everyone to post comments. This can be a positive, but there is some loss of control over content. In terms of job seeking, it is important for people to realize that potential employers are looking on these social networking sites to see what you have posted. If the user uses this site for personal as well as professional networking, this can become an issue.
LinkedIn has been a valuable tool in helping with networking and job seeking. Since many employers are now using it to post jobs-some not even posted anywhere else-it is important to keep up with this tool.
The best networking site I have used for BC so far has been LinkedIn. There are groups for Certified BC Professionals and Business Continuity -Continuity of Operations currently operating. I have used the groups to get tips on BCM software experiences, do research for articles I've had published, and hear what's going on in the human capital issues in our field. I think it could be much more useful as participation increased. You can use LinkedIn to create your own groups for a distributed BCM team as well-all on their dime. I haven't used Twitter yet but have been planning how I could use it more effectively. The challenge it seems is to manage your Twitter "fans" well, so the communication you're providing gets to the right eyes.
John A. Jackson
I think the major benefit to these sites comes in several ways. First, they provide a means to stay connected with business associates you have worked with through the continuous update process. As people move and change e-mail addresses, it is easy to lose track of folks. LinkedIn, my favorite, does an excellent job of keeping me updated on those moves and allows me to track down old associates who I might need to ping to ask a question or two. I am personally up over 600 contacts on LinkedIn. Plaxo is another one that offers comparable capabilities, but LinkedIn seems to be better attended. Second, if you sign up for the "groups" feature, you get a terrific chat capability that allows you to ask questions, help someone out, or just monitor a discussion on a topic. Finally, if I want to find someone at another company to talk with about an issue or concern, I can scan my "connection's connections" and request an invitation to connect and get in touch with that person. Without that capability, finding a connection would be a tough process. Networking is-and always has been-a terrific way to expand our knowledge and awareness of what others are doing. Conferences and user groups provide that at one level, but social networking sites expand that worldwide.