Thoughts on Social Networking Sites with IIOM Chairman Jerry Durant

Jerry Durant

Why are social networks popular? Simply put, they represent a place where people can congregate and share a common purpose, more specifically the call center profession.

However, each person may have a more specific motive and in this case it can range from promoting ones business to simple sharing and developing friendships with others of a similar vocation.

A more challenging question:

What business values can a social network involving call centers serve?

With social networks what sometimes grows from simple objectives (such as bland, boring, uninviting) becomes a bit more wayward and forms in a way that is fashioned after the members rather than a grand scheme.

This format presents real challenges for those involved in site optimization, promoters and even the future subscribers to the network. One can observe, based on early participation profiles, that global outsourcing network sites, such as Call Center Planet, is comprised of operating level individuals at both the agent and business development levels.

Although, it remains uncertain as to the present composition, purely based on population size, that agents may outweigh business development participants. However, it is more likely that active involvement may lean more in favor of business development individuals.

Why? It’s economic driven. Motives are such that they are looking to illuminate their business and seek work in a more active context. Those that remain in the much larger population (agents) may be there to seek advise, direction, re- or new employment, and possibly simply to enjoy a friendly dialog with others that are in the same profession (without actually talking about work).

This leads to another question:

How do social networks become vibrant and influencial in the virtual space?

This usually involves participant catalysts. Often derived in an organic fashion, these catalyst individuals create interest through the contribution that is made to stir the interest of the subscribers. Maybe it’s education, maybe it's topic controversy; perhaps a bit of humor, or simply being there as a main thread in the fabric of the social media network.

The future? Is there a reliable answer that one can rely upon in today’s economic climate? For me, the utilization and the value of social networks is not an end-all-be-all but rather a safe haven in a world of uncertainty. While not creating answers, it’s a place of escape. The use and value of network to business leaders is as a barometer for the tone of the rank-and-file. It raises opportunities for preparation vs. reaction in aspects that can possibly make or break a business.

Likewise it can serve to envision opportunities when taken from an objective, 20,000 foot perspective. I fear that too few leaders choose to periodically become involved in social networks due to the chance of becoming flooded with requests, and the lack of time commitment to view on a regular basis hinders their chance of making an impact.

For these reasons it then becomes a question about the long term durability of social networking outlets. Like the bland and flat comments made about Benprise, a social network can also become the same without active participation and attention in the form of re-invention.

Editor's Note: CMIQ engages in discussions and connects with business professionals on its own site, and participates in a number of social networking communities, including an account on LinkedIn.