One of the reporters in one of our newsrooms has a Roladex that goes back 30+ years. The cards are worn from handling and yellowed by the years. I have no idea if he also maintains some kind of computer file as well. Doubtful.
A well-maintained Roladex was once the most valuable thing on a reporter’s (or salesman’s) desk and the one thing to take with you when the time came.
It’s from a time when the telephone was the sole means of instant communication but not yet smart enough to remember more than a half-dozen numbers (“I’ve got you on speed dial”).
I wonder how many fewer calls are made in our email world. Has Outlook become the new Roladex? Or has our mobile phones absorbed that function? Losing your phone is only a big deal because it might mean losing all of the numbers of friends and contacts.
Which brings us to social networks.
Will being able to communicate with you –by calling or emailing– become less valuable than having you “friend” me on Facebook or “follow” me on Twitter. The difference is me seeking your attention versus you deciding to give me your attention.
Let’s say you’re a salesman for a paper products company. Let’s call you Stanley. You have the phone number and email addresses of your 20 largest customers. With a little time and patience, you can get them on the phone; get a reply to an email; and even get an appointment.
But suppose those customers elected to follow your Twitter feed because that’s where you posted links to information that they found valuable enough to give their attention. I submit it is a different –more valuable– kind of attention than you get when you punch through with a call or email.
One last example. I can call or email the senior management of our company. Most of them are in the same building, so I can walk down the hall and usually get some face time. But a couple of them read my blog and –in time– will follow my Twitter feed. And the only reason they would invest even a minute or two from incredibly busy days, is they perceive some value (information or entertainment).
Being in someone’s network is far more valuable than being on their call-back list. Or in their Roladex.