Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

Why social networking is like fly-fishing…

Twitter is one of my favorite tools for staying informed. Recently @karenrubin from @hubspot posed the following question.
“has anyone put their facebook profile public yet? if not are you going to?”

To which I replied, “@karenrubin don’t think I will be doing that. Might get 2 unwieldy. BTW hope you have great show on @hubspot tv 2day!”

In reply she posed another question.
@troutscout thanks! I am worried about the un-wieldiness of it too, but at the same time want to promote my personal brand – what to do!?!”

I didn’t think I could do justice to her question in 140 words let alone 140 characters, hence this post…

My take on @karenrubin’s question about promoting personal brands is to use content to increase awareness. Something I hear repeatedly on @hubspot tv. from her and @mvolpe

@KarenRubin has content in at least three places. On @hubspot‘s blog, on hubspot tv and on her own blog gormandizing.

As a fly-fisherman I have to figure out what will get the fish to accept my presentation as food and commit to an action. The info cycle helps refine my presentation and improve my success. Content, in this case the right fly is key.

I have applied that thinking to my professional work as well. It works for me. CC Chapman – @cc_chapman – on twitter, made a similar point on @hubspot tv recently. If i provide valuable content, in my case lobbying skills and knowledge of conservation policy, then i will attact clients.

For me in my professional life as in fishing it is not a numbers game. What is most important is reaching the correct audience.  On twitter I really don’t care how many folks follow me. I follow who interests me so I can learn from them. I figure the same thing applies to those who follow me.

If they like the content then they follow. If the fish likes the fly they strike.

Because of her content @KarenRubin has me in effect promoting her personal brand by virtue of this blog post.

If on the other hand the question is where you want to send those people if they want more of that content then I think it requires making a distinction between personal and professional personas.

I believe it was Mark Drapeau aka @cheeky_geeky on twitter who wrote something along the lines that Linked In was his rolodex, and facebook was his scrapbook. I think that is a good way to look at it

Linked In is where I send colleagues, clients and potential clients who are interested in my background. Here is my Linked In profile. I keep that area strictly professional. This blog is there and I keep these posts relevant to my professional interests such as hunting, fishing, conservation and journalism.

Facebook is where my non-business persona resides. I don’t keep my facebook content from my clients but I don’t just add folks randomly either. I am happy to add folks when they become friends. I make friends pretty easily so I add people as I get to know them.

My clients know I am on facebook and have not asked to be “friends”. If and when they do I will explain they are now asking for something other than a business relationship and content on facebook does not reflect my professional life and should not be judged as such. If I think they can and will understand and accept the difference than I will “friend” them.

Opening up your profile on facebook will certainly increase exposure. That is true of a blog, podcast or live video, and you are more likely to attract folks who are interested in your content in those venues.

If I just cast a fly in the water, any water, I have to expect an unexpected result. Not always a bad thing. On the other hand if I want to catch brook trout I have to fish in brook trout water and use a fly I think, or experience has shown me, will increase the chances of a strike.

I like that element of control and structure in my fishing and professional life. For me content, be it words or flies, is the best way to increase awareness. I think I will keep it that way for now with facebook as well.


  1. Excellent post! I especially like how you’ve distinguished Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You actually helped me make a decision I’ve been contemplating for Facebook. Thanks for the clarity!

  2. Well thought out. I like the analogies – I think you are for the most part spot on. I think anything in business is a lot like fly fishing – it’s all about finding out what works and then being willing to change when the ‘fish’ aren’t biting anymore.

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