This may seem odd, but I’m not totally on board with social media. I know, I know — how can I say that while I’m writing my second blog post this week, and will send it out on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn the moment it gets published?
Fair enough. Let me rephrase my original statement: I’m not totally on board with social media outside of work. Maybe it’s because I think I’m pretty boring and I don’t think my friends and family would be interested in my day-to-day activities.
However, when it comes to business, social media is one of the most helpful tools in a person’s portfolio. One of the greatest things you can do as a businessperson is to network. With social media, networking has gone from once-a-month meetings or once-a-year conventions to instant conversation with people within your circle.
What networking — and by extension, social media — does is help with is expanding your circle. That’s why I was excited to see AmericanHort launching a new website that included a great new social platform.
AmericanHort brings familiar functions with a new wrapper
It took me a second to realize how much the AmericanHort website had changed, and I think that’s a good thing. It looks natural and familiar. Longtime users of the site will have no trouble navigating to places they need.
While the AmericanHort website looks familiar, there’s definitely a modern feel and modern functionality. The website is responsive, meaning it conforms to whatever device you’re using. I’ve looked at the home page on my laptop, my iPad and my iPhone, and it looks great and remains functional no matter which one I used.
Other pages on the AmericanHort website have been updated, but since they are mostly informative pages, there’s not much difference to how they look. However, they are now responsive so they’re much more functional when you’re looking at them on a mobile device.
Also, AmericanHort’s companion websites, like the site for Cultivate’18, have been updated as well. Modern and clean, the Cultivate’18 website is easy to navigate and provides information about when and how to register when the time comes.
The most notable new feature comes after you sign in to the website. The first time you log in, you’ll be directed to your new profile for the AmericanHort social feed.
New social space can expand knowledge as well as contacts
For people who have used LinkedIn, the new areas of the AmericanHort website will look and feel familiar. Here, AmericanHort members can fill out their profile, connect to other members, post updates, and follow a news feed, just like other business-themed social platforms.
AmericanHort also recorded two webinars to help member set up their personal profile and their company profile pages, which can be viewed here. If you have any questions on how to set up your profiles, AmericanHort information specialist Amanda Holton is available to help. (I know this because she helped me when we couldn’t find our info to log into our company profile.) Her contact info is at the end of both webinars.
Obviously when a new social platform starts, it takes a while for it to get going. When you start out with zero connections, no posts from users and no groups established, the cupboard looks awfully bare. But as soon as AmericanHort members start using it, it should grow pretty quickly (mathematically speaking).
The most important thing when it comes to networking — whether in person or online — is to make sure you don’t limit yourself to just the people you know or your immediate peers. Our customers in the horticulture industry can attest to this first-hand.
At Practical Software Solutions, our customers range from greenhouse growers to construction companies to manufactures of everything from mattress labels to military and police weapons. While you would think that wide range of customers may have nothing in common, they have more than you would ever imagine.
For instance, our greenhouse growers and our construction customers are both dealing with immigration reform. All of our customers are dealing with changes in the tax legislation. And while they may use different software, all of our customers deal with hardware issues, internet connections and other technology-based aspects of their businesses that IT professionals can talk shop about.
How are all these customers able to do this? We provide forums for networking, both online and in-person. We have our Tuesdays with Practical online user group meetings for our manufacturing and greenhouse customers to join together once a month. Then, we have our annual get-together at Sage Summit, where all of our customers can network.
And believe me — they network! During a Sage 500 ERP customer round-table at Sage Summit 2017, half of the participants were our customers, and half our customers were growers and half were traditional manufacturers.
So when you’re looking for groups in the new AmericanHort website, make sure you look for ones that you have an interest in but may be outside of your direct field of play. You may gain more knowledge than you ever could expect.
If you want another good reason to sign in and update your profile, AmericanHort announced that every day until Friday, Jan. 19, they will award an AmericanHort Super Swag Pack to one person at random who has completed 55 percent of their profile. That’s not a bad incentive to set up a profile, especially in an industry networking site.