Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Show me the Money, Jerry"

I have been thinking a lot lately about online social networking.

The old advice used to be, “Network, network, network!” I suppose that is a very sound notion. But lately, I have been torn between the perception of social media and the noise of constantly being marketed to. Or at. And I sometimes wonder who is still listening.

Here’s a story for you…(cue Beverly Hillbillies Theme about a man named Jed..) When I retired from teaching in the mid 90’s I had to move my pension money into what they call a LIRA (which I think is a Locked-In Retirement Account…or something only brilliant financial people understand. Sort of like derivatives, only better) This was a pretty hot time in the online world. Lots of folks were in a constant state of arousal over this new thing “the Internet” and hi-tech companies were popping up everywhere and venture capitalists were falling over themselves to give these companies money. The THING to invest in was hi-tech. You were and IDIOT to NOT invest in this. An idiot, I tell you. Every advisor, between ejaculations, would breathlessly tell you how these stocks were growing 20, 30, 40% OR MORE!! I never liked shaking hands with these people.

Now it occurred to me, a boring little musician, that these companies didn’t really do anything. They didn’t make anything nor did they seem to do much. (“nooooo…it’s virtual! It’s the information superhighway…we’re in the information age…no more manufacturing! Let China do that old-fashioned crap…we process information now! Didn’t you know that, you Luddite?) Yes many companies had potential to, uh, do something but I wasn’t really sure what. Having been brought up by a Scot who lived by the maxim that if you can’t explain what you do in 10 words or less, you probably aren’t doing anything. I was suspicious. But I thought maybe I just didn’t get it.

So, to be clever, I put my retirement money into a LIRA, which was invested in hi-tech companies. These companies had averaged 40% returns in the previous 2 years. All winners.

You know how this ends, don’t you? It was the late 90’s and I had visions of huge gains and retiring well with the power of absurdly fabulous compound interest. When the ass fell out of the high-tech market once The Emperor was indeed found to be naked, my LIRA stood for  “Lose It Right Away”. Nasty.

Which brings me to social media.

I have been re-building my business since moving here last May. I have a terrific group of new music clients. And I still have a number of clients in Toronto for whom I compose music for their TV or corporate productions. I am trying to expand that client base and, like all modern fellas, am using social media to pimp my wares. I have a significant presence and post regularly on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin- one of which you have used to find this brilliant blog. Even the blog is tied to my website that links back to everything else. I am SO modern and with-it.

But I was thinking that, in all the noise I make whoring myself, how much actual money have I made because someone found me so irresistible online that they HAD to work with me- either give me a gig, a film to score, audio to do or an album to record.

The answer is simple: $0

My clients have all been gained the old fashioned way: personal introductions, referrals from existing clients and/or warm hand-offs. They are all on my social media now, but were clients before they were on my Facebook/Linkedin/Twitter. Bob Ardern, whose CD I just finished producing found me on the Music Nova Scotia website and found that I lived 2 blocks away. So, I suppose you could say he found me online. But it was not through the “usual” channels.

I like the notion that I can expand my network of potential clients by having 10,000 in my Linkedin network. But without a personal connection, or living 2 blocks away, I wonder how much real business value it has. I know it’s good advertising and you have to be visible. And people need to see you through your website. Who trusts a business without a website? But I am of the mind that much of it may be like the colour flyers you get in the mail: noise you take little notice of in the constant din of being advertised at.

Perhaps I am wrong and maybe one the film producers on my Twitter or Linkedin here will be directed to this blog and say, “Call that guy Findlay right now and have him score that show!”  You might even think this whole blog entry is but a clever attempt at marketing myself. You might.

Maybe. Wouldn’t that be nice if my clever marketing idea bore fruit? We will see.

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