Ah the holiday season.  The decorations!  The music!  The crazy,
stressed-out sprint to the end of the quarter!!!  This time of the year
always gets me pondering why some people are so amazingly
execution-oriented and others, well, let’s just say if these folks were
in charge Mussolini probably could have gotten away with a stern
talking to.

I talked in my last post about how I thought small
tech companies should hire a product marketer instead of a marketing
communication person as their first marketing hire.  The idea was that
if you have only a few headcount to work with, why wouldn’t you spend it
on someone that could do analyst briefings, help set product strategy,
create sales materials, do messaging and positioning, etc.

Now
that said, I’m not saying that Product Marketers know how to do
everything.  They sure as heck don’t.  I personally am graphically
challenged (my friend Georgina, who has a gift for non-verbal
communication once described the look of this blog by sticking her
tongue out and pointing a finger in her mouth).  Some can write well,
others can’t.  Some have great relationships with analysts but lack
press contacts.  You get the idea.

This is why your network is so important.  Your
CEO would laugh you out of her office if you asked to hire a full time
graphics person but you might have budget for a few weeks worth of
contract work.  If you have a great network you might be able to barter
some of your time in exchange for some of theirs.  Even if you can’t
get folks to do the actual work, having the advice of someone who is
more skilled than you at something is pretty darn valuable.  My network works well on the beer barter system.  Hey, I’m Canadian.

As far
as tools go, I am a big fan of LinkedIn, mainly because my contacts and
I tend to move around a lot so it is great for keeping track of folks
that I know.  But lately my favorite tool for finding new folks that know
something about a particular topic is, by far, Twitter.

Here’s my amazing example of Twitter networking that I have watched come together over
the past couple of weeks.  Some folks in Toronto decided they wanted to
hold a holiday charity event in Toronto in support of our local food bank, The Daily Bread Food Bank.
In short order a group formed, a face to face
meeting happened and the next day I see a Tweet asking if anyone wanted
to help out.  I sent my email address in and the next thing you know I
am part of this execution MACHINE called Ho Ho To.

There is a person who knows how to build websites.  The site is up in a few hours.  Someone designs a logo.  Then another.  There are event management people organizing volunteers.  Someone knows someone at a venue (the Mod Club) and convinces them to give it to us.  For free.  With cheap drinks.  Someone else knows a caterer and they give us food.  At cost.  There is a graphics guru who sorts out formatting sponsor logos for the web and other places.  A photographer is taking pictures.  A PR person is drafting a press release and gets it on the wire for free.  Someone
decides that it is too tricky for the Food Bank to pick up the bin at
the end of the night so calls in some friends from the army to pick up
the bin.  The frikkin’ ARMY.  Everyone reaches out to their network for
sponsorships and the
next thing you know it’s a week into the project and there are 27
sponsors and the group has raised over $13,000 for the food bank,
effectively making it one of their top fund raising events for the
entire year.  And the news is
all over town.  I’m not even mentioning half of the stuff going on.  In
a week.  What the heck!?  Did I mention that I have never met a single
person on the team face to face?

Dear readers, if I had to
design a logo, do you know how long it would take me?  Ages.  And would
people be doing the universal gesture for throwing up when they saw
it?  You can bet money on that.

So what have I learned from
all of this?  Some folks on Twitter are pretty amazing at what they
do.  If you’re looking for them, or if they are looking for you, it’s a neat way to connect. If you want to work together you can do truly
amazing things.  Yes, I know that running a project for a company is
different from running one for charity.  You might have to pay.  It
might be in beer.  But trust me, there are superstar people out there
that you can help and that can help you back.

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