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The Yorkshire Mafia
2010-02-26: I got a strong feeling that many business-people's new year's resolution was to use Linked-In more. On mySpace you can talk about how awesome club nights are, on Facebook your Auntie's probably on there so you share your holiday snaps, recommend scented candle shops and wonder aloud about whether you should get a pet piglet. Twitter is for live chatalong with reality TV and updates about the morning's commute, while on Linked-In you wear your suit .. it's business only.
That was tongue-in-cheek btw, I've had lots of business from Twitter. I'm just reflecting back people's views of the different services. I spoke to a friend and business colleague yesterday and he honestly can't see how Twitter would be useful to him.
Anyway, at the start of the year I did get a sense that people in business had gotten the measure of Facebook, tried Twitter, and were now ready for LinkedIn. I was one of them.
So I'm trying a few things out and one prevailing means to success is, apparently, to help people out and give things away. I'm concerned that what will happen is that will become a popular and then trite way of carrying on as the recipients begin to recognise an 'is there anything I can do to help?' as the beginning of a sales process, that once you accept help you also accept an obligation to reciprocate. What may well be a genuine offer to help may become poisoned by becoming a known sales technique. Sad, because I always feel genuine. Maybe everyone does.
Anyway, apparently Linked-In groups are a great way to connect with people, and answering and asking questions are too, so I got invited to join the Yorkshire Mafia which appears to be a networking group aiming to promote the doing of business within Yorkshire. There's a lot of this about, I see it when working on TweetCloser, lots of Chambers of Commerce activities promoting regional business. But this is a genuinely popular group promoting the real strengths of an area so, nothing wrong with that.
Yesterday was a Mafia meetup in a hard-to-get-to hotel in a bit of Leeds reminiscent of the bit where Corro Roy was nearly drowned then saved, and preceded by an unprotected bit of canal in the middle of the plaza area in a direct line from where you enter the plaza to the entrance to the hotel (honest, lookee see for yourself (obviously it wasn't built yet when that aerial shot was taken, but that canal is completely unguarded and unannounced. Could easily text-"hello love, finally found the hotel, aaaargh"-phone-amble yourself into the dark waters of the canal, I'll have nightmares about that)).
It was full and hot and friendly and contained so many tall people I thought I was in Amsterdam. Perhaps Linked-In promotes growth. Being a Linked-In-driven group it had a higher proportion of Internet marketers than exists in the real world. So, it was nice to meet other likeminded souls but it might have been nicer to meet people I could trade with. There was the chap who ran The Devil's Guide to IT in a black suit, red tie, and sunglasses, and the man with the best Twitter tale I heard all night, Dan Sumption who, working on iPlayer programming for the BBC, was able to tweet a bug-complainant to say "I fixed it, try it now". How cool is that? You're sat at home watching i-Player, something goes wrong and you report it, then .. not customer services, but the actual programmer, tweets you and says "thanks, try it now, I've fixed it". That direct connection and immediacy is, for me, the essence of Twitter.
As for Linked-In advice from a roomful of Linked-In users? One devotes an hour a day to using it and has lots of work from it. Seems like a lot of time. The social media guru lady at VentureFest talked of maybe a quarter of an hour each morning. That sounded optimistic at the time, though.
So yes, a good gathering, certainly popular, and everyone's genuine about working with each other. There's certainly a lot of reason to, and with such talent in Yorkshire very little reason to look to London for anything much .. Trooping The Colour maybe. I'm pleased to be part of it and I'll keep you informed.

By John Allsopp
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