I, like millions of other social network type people, have a LinkedIn account, where I can tell the world where I am currently at and where I have been. It also allows me to link up with other clean and green minded people via group networks. Without it my life would be duller to the point that I would not have got into blogging and be writing regular wibble like this. Like many others I am a member of numerous groups that my in-box can confirm, having a daily seizure with all of the discussion points raised – which I scan read over breakfast each morning as it gives me a chance to scope potential market shifts and deal opportunities as part of my regular business development mantra.
These opportunities range from “Me Too’s” opportunists, looking to make a quick buck by copying what everyone else is doing – but with no skills on board or actually a plan, in fact just blagging. “Concept Junkies” that have in their garage, classroom or kitchen table, developed the answer to world starvation/ fuel shortage/ power crisis/ eco-failure (please delete where applicable). The only problem is – err, it’s a concept and there is no business thinking behind it or ever will be even with the current owners price tag of either $20,000 or in a lot of cases $20 million – so be gentle with them. Finally there are the “Real Deals”. Clever people with a solid team of connected thinkers, that have done the homework and the math on partnering, off-takes, markets, scalability, future proofing, business valuation and exit and believe – rightly so that they can deliver a real and viable business – but for a little cash injection matched with a somewhat larger future return.
4 months ago I would have a bulging weekly set of new contacts and opportunities of potential wheat amongst the expected chaff, in the last 2 months that has dwindled to 2 possibly 3 opportunities a month and I’m not sure I really understand why.
Today for example on one clean and green group discussion board (no names, no pack drill) there are:
• 4 recruitment job offers (great sign)
• 3 people looking to break into the market (pick up the phone you people!!!)
• A rant about clean coal (isn’t that an oxymoron?…..)
• And err…..that’s it, not even a weird and wonderful concept for me to be gentle with.
OK I know that we are living in gloom town currently and that there is a daily torrent of business failures and job losses, but that is also matched with a stuttering but gradual rise of clean tech investment by both corporations and governments – in fact apart from the weekly banking bail-outs they seem to be the ONLY investments that are being made. So why then is this not encouraging would be smart businesses to announce that they too require funding? Do they have all of the funding they need from the stimulus packages etc (yeah right!) are they ducking for cover till the investment news is better, or has the lustre of social networking groups lost some of its original sparkle and kudos?
Personally I hope not, I believe that social networking is now a part of most of us and in a business context allows for a wider understanding, access and appreciation of what’s happening in an industry that is regularly changing tyres and direction at 100 miles per hour. Perhaps it is just a case that the discussion boards are seen to be dumbing down or there are better and more effective ways of promotion, but I would have thought that in a tough market all and every channel would be worth a very vocal and worthy punt.