3 Productivity Busters and How to Fix Them with Social Media [Guest Post]

Productivity is the Holy Grail of business.  The more productive we are, the more profitable we are.  The more profitable, the healthier our businesses and by extension our financial lives are.

But most discussions around productivity and social media start with one basic assumption: social media is a distraction that you need to manage in order to protect your productivity.

What if this assumption is wrong? What if social media could address specific productivity issues?

Here are three areas that you can use social media tools to tackle and increase your productivity today.

1. Effective networking

You’ve just come back from a conference or trade show; you met tens or even hundreds of people.  As you collected business cards, you frantically scribbled notes on the back with spouse’s names, conversational details, and other identifying factors.  Now you’re back in the office after the event, and want to make the most of connections you’ve made.

Gone are the days where capitalizing on networks meant hours of arduous follow ups, emails, and phone calls.  All these “human touch” aspects to networking still have a place, but sites like LinkedIn and the BranchOut application of Facebook have dramatically streamlined the basic process of organizing and keeping in touch with your contacts. Check to see if a new contact is active on LinkedIn, and send them an invitation with a short personal note.  This is a great first step to moving a new contact to a hot lead over time.  Other sites to consider include Xing, Viadeo, and StartUp Nation.

2. Combating information overload

Common wisdom is that social media is a primary culprit for too much information coming in our direction.  But the judicious application of specific tools can actually help you weed out the best info and streamline how you consume it.  Consider this: in many fields, you must read certain blogs or publications to stay informed.  To do otherwise is to fall behind the competition and risk being out of date – SEO is one example of an area that changes daily.

With the majority of publications available online, simple tools from Google such as Google Reader can consolidate and organize a range of publications into a single place.  Communities like StockTwits can be used by financial professionals to surface information in their field by a network of trusted peers.  When social media is used to access trusted circles of information, it can help you keep your finger on the pulse of your industry.

3. Easy access to collaborators and brainstorm partners

There comes a time in every project where you hit a creative roadblock, whether it’s needing to test an idea or get more deeply into the heads of your customers.  With access to social media, there’s no need for expensive focus groups or market research that takes weeks to complete.  Within ten minutes you can design a survey on a tool such a Survey Monkey and deploy to your followers and friends via Twitter, Facebook and any of one hundred other platforms for near instantaneous feedback.

Similarly, if you develop an idea but need talent to help you get it done, investing a short amount of time into a job description can get you started.  Posting to the appropriate groups on LinkedIn or sites like Techcofounder.com can help you identify partners.  Individuals can be hired for one off tasks with similar effort via Elance, Guru, or Odesk.  Social media has changed the speed at which we can test ideas, form teams, and deploy new projects into the world.

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Liz Alton
Liz Alton is a Boston-based writer and social media enthusiast. You can find her writing in USA Today, Technorati, PolicyMic, The Daily Muse and Social Media Today. Liz also contributes on behalf of Genie Ventures, who run a number of successful social shopping sites such as Broadband Genie. Connect with her online via Twitter @beinglizzie.

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