Being part of a 24/7 world of connectivity seems to be making the idea of geography in social and business situations defunct. It would appear you can find people, assess them and even meet them without leaving your chair.
My journey of digital enlightenment began on a dreary Tuesday at the end of February in 2001, where I was being treated as guest of honour at Peterborough United, after winning a competition to design their kit for the next season. I had been one of four finalists and the designs had been subject to a weeklong online vote that I had won. That week I had been on a mission to keep my friends voting for my kit, doing all of my rallying through instant messenger. I realize now this was the first time I'd seen the power of communication through the internet working for me.
Fast forward 13 years, and a lot has changed in my life. But the fundamental reasons for entering that competition have stayed the same. I am a passionate designer at a Digital Agency in Berkshire called Rawnet and I still (much to the despair of my wife) avidly follow the fluctuating fortunes of Peterborough United. The only big difference is that I now live a good two hour drive from Peterborough, making it a long distance relationship.
It is however not 2001 anymore and with the internet now entrenched in our daily lives I feel somehow better connected to the club than I was as a 17 year old season ticket holder. It would appear I have a better chance of bumping into our star player on Twitter as I do on the streets of Peterborough. After the club's momentous cup win last monday night (Feb 17th) that saw us book a place in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final at Wembley I decided to send out a celebratory tweet. I tweeted an illustration I had done of the game's goal hero and included his twitter handle in the tweet. The player gave me a positive response almost instantly and with that a short flurry of likes and new followers came my way.
One of those followers was the club's marketing manager Neil Gilby, who was able to not only assess my character and interests through my tweets but also link away to my online portfolio and most importantly, he could say hi. With his "love of old fashioned posters, from the likes of the Who, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin" he was really keen for me to produce a series of illustrated posters for the club that "will connect with the fans" and "be a great keep sake".
The first poster, a Wembley special, will be appearing around the city in the next few days and I am extremely proud to once again be playing a part in the club's history. I know for a fact that this wouldn't have happened without three vital components. Firstly me having a social media presence that is always measured and sensible, always think before you tweet as the old saying goes. The second is making sure my message is connecting with the right people, my online platform is self constructed, if I want someone to hear me I need to talk to them. And the final component is making sure I am proud of what people can see of me. Neil found, assessed and hired his "new favourite artist" before even speaking to me. Which makes me realize, that in a digitally connected world without traditional boundaries, first impressions now count more than ever.