Don’t send me something urgent on Facebook Messenger. I won’t see it for half a day, maybe even more. In fact, I might not respond at all there because I prefer email for people that I don’t really know. I started Facebook when Facebook started and it has amassed so many people I don’t know it is more of a publishing platform than a communication tool nowadays for me. Of course if you really knew me, you would know that. Which is sort of the point. We have so many social media and other communication platforms available that it is just one huge mess. So let me untangle it for you regarding my personal network choices. It is my contention that we all need to do something like this, possible with yet another app or social platform to communicate it everywhere. I will describe it as it is today, starting from things closer to me and spreading out. After face to face interactions it goes something like this:
- Inner circle. If you really know me, you know my cell phone number. It is usually somewhere near me and is quite obviously the place to find me if you need me urgently. I do switch off at night and I do try to forget it at times in order to truly relax. So if I am up a mountain, running, cycling or playing with my kids you can’t get me. Unless you know their telephone numbers, or my partner’s number and you catch somebody near me. I also blatantly disregard it ringing if I don’t recognize the incoming number, ie you are not in my contact list. I don’t consider not picking up rude if you do it to me and I hang up at any time for any reason. There is nothing sacred about talking on the phone.
- SMS. This used to be a better way to get me for something not urgent but important I shouldn’t miss. I am likely to respond via email if my answer needs thinking and explaining. I dislike SMS as it is not easy to archive and keep long term connected to a contact. Also it is a bit old fashioned. I have linked everything to contacts since way before smartphones, my brain has always had a built in CRM system. If we meet at a trade show I might open a new contact with “some interesting dude I met at CeBit” and then add “Nick – English” the next time or “has cool ideas about distribution”. I will keep adding things to your contact ad infinitum. Your kids’ names, your favorite Greek food and anything else I discover. Met up with an old school friend who is now my dentist and was showing him how to use google contacts. He saw “dude from school, has a kid around 10, likes spear gun fishing” on my phone before I had had time to add new info….
- Email. Of all the online methods, call me old fashioned, but I prefer email. I save emails forever. Unless we are chatting off the record and not saying anything important, I like a medium that records everything so I can find it. Anybody proposing we discuss something serious on Viber, WhatsApp or Messenger is obviously a clown in my books. Either that or a woman trying to chat me up or some international spy who prefers I don’t save things we write.
Online or offline? At this point I have to draw a big red virtual line. Anything under this is online methods. And I warn you: I am not always online. Email is above the line because it is the only thing I let sneak through as worthy of more data connection. But I switch off plenty. When driving or travelling or outdoors. When in a meeting very often. Do not assume that I am online. I am often not online. So if you don’t know my cell phone and I don’t have you as a contact worthy of responding to, you are not getting me. End of story. Send an email or take your pick from the online methods below:
4. Google Hangouts (now Google Chat). Yeah, I know, it’s not very trendy. Which is precisely why I chose it for my inner circle. Kids, family, parents, partner. I shouldn’t really even be telling everyone else but I will simply ignore any requests from people that aren’t family. Hangouts is for quick stuff between us. I will still do my best to turn to email, or phone, or meeting if it is “juicier” in terms of content. Stick it on a shared Calendar event or anything shared and permanent where I know we can all find it. Chat is a waste of time as far as I am concerned most of the time. Use with extreme caution.
5. Skype. Used to use Skype a lot for work. Polite way to keep in closer contact with work related stuff. Go offline when you don’t want customers to find you, go online when you are ready to be full of good ideas for them. I still try to be on a computer with Skype some time during the day.
6. Linked in. Can’t guarantee I will check it every day but I try to maintain contact for various reasons. During the day often 5-6 times I will need to look for something or someone there.
7. Instagram, Viber, What’s App, Snapchat chats are proof to me that you are not serious. Unless I have a project with some organization or country that relies on one of these a lot, I try to uninstall them from my devices. I then install as soon as need arises. But no, you won’t find me on these time wasting rubbish tools. Get a life, get serious and get away from them asap.
8. Facebook. I have a hate-hate relationship to Facebook. It insults my intelligence the way it simply demands our attention. A black hole for wasting time and a great tool for selling to those that haven’t realized they are wasting time and money on it. Depending on current projects I might not even see it for a few days or be online all day. In any case, I do my best not to depend on it. I often disable my account for a few weeks and use alternate profiles for managing pages etc. Try it. It clears your mind.
I could go on but we are already pretty far from me in terms of communication. You can comment on one of my many blogs and sites, I might see that faster than most of the other online ways (4-8) described above. I generally switch off all push notifications. But take the time to draw up your own communication map. And if anybody wants to make an app for it call me to become a beta tester. No, scrape that, email me about it.