Career Advice interview with Alan Lepofsky, Industry Analyst and expert in Collaboration Software, Social Business and Social Media.
How did you decide to pursue your career? What attracted you to it?
For many years I worked at IBM, learning about enterprise needs and requirements as I supported some of the world's largest companies (as customers) and also via use of IBM's own internal systems. Next I went to work at Socialtext so I could experience working at a Startup. I felt the next logical step was to take the combined knowledge from those two experiences and work as an industry analyst, where instead of just focusing on just one vendor I can examine the entire market (current and future).
Why did you decide to start blogging about Social Business?
I am passionate about taking complex subjects and explaining them in simple ways, looking past the hype and vendor-talk and focusing on the real business value. Blogging is one way that I can share my thoughts with a large audience and hopefully people can benefit from my experiences.
What is your advice to people who are looking to begin their career in Social Media/Business?
Instead of telling people what do to, I'll offer my advice on what I think they should NOT do. I see too many people talk (blog) about the needs of enterprise customers, when they have never worked for one or even with customers of that size. The pains and needs of large customers are not the same as those of the consumer web. Having a Facebook or Twitter account does not make someone an experienced social business consultant or analyst. So I guess my advice is, stick to what you know, focus on that and seek out people that are in need to advice in the area that you have experience in.
Which experts and mentors have molded your expertise in your career?
When I was at IBM there were several executives whom I looked up to, such as IBM Fellow Emeritus Carol Jones and Distinguished Engineer Charlie Hill. One of the factors in my moving to Socialtext was the opportunity to work along side Ross Mayfield, who was one of the early pioneers of the "enterprise 2.0" movement. Currently I'm refining my skills as an analyst by learning from industry veterans such as Ray Wang (Constellation's CEO), Paul Greenberg, Sameer Patel, Dion Hinchcliff and Esteban Kolsky. I hate to leave people out, but there are literally dozens of other incredibly talented and innovative people who I enjoy reading and engaging with online or at conferences.
What are the 5 online resources you would suggest to our users to follow to develop and be updated about Social Media for Business?
That's a tough question, do my blog and SlideShare pages count? ;-) I think InformationWeek's The BrainYard is good site. Following the socbiz hashtag on Twitter is useful, but you have to manually weed out the valuable posts from the noise that occurs in that stream. There are several blogs that are useful (ex: the people mentioned above as well as Luis Suarez, Thomas Vander Wal and others), and finally attend the webinars held by some of the top vendors.