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Information is Key to the New Economy

Last night I had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Al Waddill, VP of Business Development at Groen Brothers Aviation.

Some of you may recall I’ve written about Mr. Waddill before regarding persuasion techniques.

What he spoke about last night closely follows what I believe is happening with the economy and even touched on points Seth Godin made last Friday.

In a nutshell, Mr. Waddill proposed our new economy is about information and those businesses who will succeed will master providing current, accurate information.

Further, he believes social media is the conduit we’ll get this information and judge its validity.  The rate of change in technology is advancing so quickly, as humans we can’t possibly keep up with it all.  Specialization is necessary to be successful.

The long view of what he said proposes networking, or knowing the people who specialize in the information you need for your business is one of the best moves to make.

All of these arguments are certainly valid and important.  I shared two ways I manage information and get the answers I need.

1.  Twitter is the first way.  I create lists of people I believe provide good information.  Some of them are cutting edge in their industries.  Some are just full of good information.  By segmenting who I follow into lists, I’m able to get the information I need.

For instance a new Google product, Buzz, has hit this week.  I wouldn’t have known about it without Twitter.  This morning, a quick Twitter search reveals some privacy issues.  I don’t need to know all the answers in my head.  I just need to know where to get them.  Seth Godin said Friday we need to teach our children which questions to ask.  All the answers are on the Internet.

More than anything else, Twitter is a real-time search engine.  Twitter is to social media as Google is to the Internet.  It’s a social search engine and that’s why businesses need to be on it.  Google thinks so too as it’s including Twitter connections as search results.

2. Find a maven – In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, he described a certain type of business behavior as being a maven.  Wikipedia defines the characteristics of this behavior as

those who are intense gatherers of information and impressions, and so are often the first to pick up on new or nascent trends.

Like Mr. Waddill said, technology is changing so fast, it’s hard to keep up.  It’s also hard to know which technology to adapt.  Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it will get traction and acceptance.  The simple answer is to find a maven who specializes in what you need to know.  Fortunately, mavens are easy to find.  They are eager to tell everyone they know what they know.  They blog, they tweet, they speak in public.  That person you hear or read that sounds like they know what they’re talking about; that’s a maven.

My technology maven is Pat Kitano, author of Media Transparent.  He told me to use Facebook three years ago.  He said to use Twitter.  He said to use Posterous.  He’s saying to use Foursquare.  Because I trust him, I did it.  Twitter took me a little while to get, but he was the first person I followed.

Every industry has a maven.  It may not be someone in the industry, it may be a passionate fan.  Consider the fortune of Rotten Tomatoes.  Founder Senh Duong created the site because he was a fan of Jackie Chan movies and collected reviews of the films.  The site was an immediate hit and has been sold several times in the last decade.  By trade, Duong was in the web design business, not the movie business.

Thanks again to Mr. Waddill for another excellent presentation.  It’s refreshing to see experienced business people embrace new technology.  I suppose it’s that experience that gives them the wisdom to do so.

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  1. February 17, 2010 at 10:00 am

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