SMXQ: Ted Vickey

Ted Vickey hails from Erie, Pennsylvania and now resides in Galway, Ireland. He started his first company when he was 24 years old and his first client was The White House: official residence of the President of the United States of America. He is now working on a PhD in social networking and exercise adherence at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He will be speaking at BlogTalk 2010 on how to make best use of your profile and connections on Linkedin.

1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

I am an American entrepreneur living in Galway, Ireland. I studied Exercise and Sports Science at Penn State. I then had a 17-year stint living in the Washington, DC area.

Two years ago, I decided to live my bucket list. One item on that list was to live in Ireland and another was to get a Master’s degree. I finished my Master’s in International Business from the University of Limerick earlier this year, with my thesis on how the Irish entrepreneur uses social networking to create, manage and grow their business.

2. What was your route into social media?

I’ve always been known as the guy that knows everyone that gets things done. It was one of the things I learned at the White House. You can’t do it alone, you need help along the way. As an entrepreneur, I learned early that it isn’t always what you know, but rather who you know. Social media is a key resource for me in many aspects of my life – from my education to playing golf around the world. From growing my businesses to researching my Irish/German/Polish/Italian family history.

3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

I am very excited about my PhD looking at how we can use social networking and social media to increase exercise adherence. We’ve all heard the same message for years, but inactivity continues to be a challenge for many and the global obesity rate is expanding. This current generation has grown up in a digital world, thus we need a digital solution to live longer and healthier lifestyles.

4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?

I am an evangelist for Linkedin, a big fan of <a href="Twitter, a frequent mayor on FourSquare, and an active user of YouTube and different blogs.

I have a plan for my LinkedIn network: if you want to achieve your goals, your network can’t be accidental. You need to be conscious and purposeful about whom you’re devoting your time to and why. LinkedIn will help you build stronger, more genuine relationships by providing you with information about the people that matter most. When someone makes a connection with me, I often ask how I can best help them.

For my personal use, I use Facebook to stay in contact with friends and family from all over the world. The jury is still out for me on Facebook and business uses. While there is a huge pool of potential customers, I haven’t yet seen a stable business model with Facebook.

5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?

Hands down, no questions asked: Linkedin. If you can learn the effective ways to use LinkedIn as a business tool, you can find your dream job, grow your own business, increase your personal brand, and even win a political election. Through my LinkedIn network, I have sold product, hired experts, found golfing partners, researched graduate schools, hired employees, helped others and made a difference to those around me.

6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

Social media is all about relationships. The need for building social connections hasn’t changed over the years, but the tools that we use to participate, share, create and network have.

7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

Social media is a digital bridge that can allows real-time interaction between friends from down the street to halfway around the world. It is a mutual desire to build a connection where ten years ago a connection could not have existed. Physical distance is no longer a challenge for personal and business growth. A small one-person company on the west coast of Ireland can now compete on a level playing field with a large company in downtown New York city.

8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?

The biggest issue I see with social media is that people take the “social” out of the equation. Would you rather have a core group of followers who care about you and your product and tell their friends about you, or a large number of followers who know nothing about you with no reason to follow you?

9. What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Social media isn’t hard, you just need a good plan. Take time to create a plan.

10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?

Social media IS the future. With so much noise online, you need to be innovative to stand out.

Ted can be found on Twitter as @tedvickey and on Linkedin here.

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