The HR Juggler

Day 36: The Voice From The Other Sofa

Posted on: January 5, 2013


Today’s post is by Mervyn Dinnen, who was the very first person I met from the ConnectingHR community and has always been on hand to offer support, encouragment and hugs when required! You can find him on Twitter @MervynDinnen or at his excellent blog.


Almost three years ago, January 2010 to be precise, the ‘GenY/Millenial Personal Branding Expert/Guru’ Dan Schawbel famously tweeted:

‘You have to be as committed to your social media profile as you are to your husband or wife

This drew much criticism from the nascent social recruiting community on both sides of the Atlantic (including me, at the time). After all, this statement was made by a single guy, barely old enough to shave (let alone date) – what did he know?

Two years ago, in December 2010, I needed to find a new job. As some readers will know, I took the decision to undertake a social job hunt, blogging and tweeting about my availability, chronicling the process, and letting the jobs come to me.

Most of you will also know that it only took 6 weeks for me to find and start a new role, one that was exactly what I was looking for. The fact that it only took such a short space of time could easily be turned into a case study of how effective social recruiting is. Except for one fact:

It may have only taken 6 weeks to find the job, but it took 2 years to build the network that delivered the job in 6 weeks!

Two years of hearing the voice from the other sofa, night after night, say ‘what are you doing with your head in that laptop every night?

Guess what. Dan Schawbel was right!

Building the social media profile did kinda take as much, if not more, of my effort!

Within a few months the voice from the other sofa had something different to say ‘I assumed that once you got a job doing this stuff all day long you wouldn’t need to be doing it all night too’.

‘But, during the day I’m doing business things, this is when I talk to my friends’ came my not very convincing reply.

In December 2011 I produced a blog of lists. One of the lists looked at the people involved in my social arrangements for that month. I went out 19 times (well, it’s Christmas!) and Traditional Social Friends shaded Online Social Friends 7 -5. I’ve just checked my list for December 2012 arrangements and it’s currently:

  • Online Social Friends – 8
  • Traditional Social Friends – 5
  • Family – 4
  • Colleagues/ex-colleagues – 3
  • Just me and the Voice from the Other Sofa – 2*

More arrangements, but it’s ‘people originally met through social media’ that now figure in more of my nights out. And my liver is still suffering!

Now, many of the people that fall under ‘Online Social’ have become real life friends, and in my day to day life I don’t differentiate between how I first met them…they are all my friends. But it’s interesting to see the increasing time I spend on social media translate into a greater number of offline arrangements.

The voice from the other sofa is now slightly more resigned to it. But then the payoff is that she gets to watch more property porn and I’m a Celeb type stuff on TV without me moaning.

Alison’s theme is Reflections and Resolutions so here are mine:

Reflection – Social media takes up a lot of my time, but has given me lots of special friends and contacts. Many readers will probably have their own voices from the other sofa.

Resolution – My family and my liver are very important to me. I’m going to take good care of them all in 2013!

Wishing a Happy and Prosperous 2013 to you all

(* Panic not readers, The Voice from the Other Sofa is accompanying me on many of the other nights out too)

17 Responses to "Day 36: The Voice From The Other Sofa"

Too true – You need to invest in social media in order to get anything back from it and the investment precedes the results. Social media without any conversion of that into real life conversations is not that effective.

Speaking of which, I’ve tried joining #connectingHR several times but don’t get the joining e-mail (not in spam). Any clues on a person to contact re this?


Thanks Peter, the real like conversion is very important. Hopefully the ConnectingHR issue will sort itself out.

Mervyn you have a particularly welcoming, open, witty, inclusive and thoughtful social media persona which totally matches with you in person, someone I have been thrilled to meet and begin to get to know. Happy new year, liver, sofa love, and life.

Thanks Meg, it’s been great to meet and get to know you in 2012 🙂

Beautiful post Mervyn… Now how do I attach that picture of the top of your head from across the table? 😉 x

That picture stays on Faceobok Katrina! ;o)

Reading your post, rather like following your social job hunt, is similar having a barometer that reliably indicates the social changes occurring across the globe. Social needs to be real, with genuine contact and interactions, and you have made it so more than most – I am one of many who initially met you via a screen but has had the pleasure of getting to know you in person too. You are one of the people I would turn to for advice on a wide range of topics (not just social media or recruitment). However, I understand the concerns of the voices from the other sofa (I have one and at times I am one) – it is easy to get immersed in a screen and lose contact with those around you. People are precious and getting the balance right for you and them is tricky. Here’s wishing you and your “Voice from the Other Sofa” a wonderful year ahead.

Thanks Kate, and a Happy and Healthy 2013 to you and your voice from the other sofa 🙂 You and I are a good example of the power of social – we met through recruitment a few years ago but never kept in touch. Social networks have enabled us to re-connect and form a friendship!

Bottom line, if you have that kind of voice coming from the other sofa then you have a problem, no matter how you excuse it. Dan Schawbel was right but only in the context of his life. And as someone ‘barely old enough to shave’ as you say, his perspective is very different. His family/loved ones etc will consist mainly of parents and siblings etc who, at his age, would only expect a limited amount of interaction anyway. Even if he had a partner, the dynamics are different – add living together, both parties working and kids and all of a sudden the dynamic isnt so easy to glibly write about in a blog post.

Sure networking and building your profile is incredibly important. Pre internet/social it was difficult and required physical time. Online and social makes it in theory much easier, and accessible, right down to our daily devices. But by definition it is also more competitive as everyone can have access, right from the sofa! And it is this pervasiveness that can be the issue and steal our minds from what is important.

Im not saying this isnt valuable, or important, but I believe we are witnessing the initial surge of excitement. There can be a price to pay and presence is one of them. dont get me wrong, like you social has delivered for me in spades. Im beginning to admire more those people who appear only occasionally, rather than like a relentless foghorn on every channel.

Next time the voice comes from the ‘other sofa’ you might want to think about why you are on separate sofa’s… 😉

Hi Gareth, thanks for the comment. Yes, it is a matter of balance, of light and shade. You’ll be pleased to know that we’re not always on separate sofas 🙂

Yep – Dan wossname might be right for Dan – but not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I get the thrust of where you are coming from Merv and I like most of it. But I’m a big fan of presence, of being in the moment too.

Hopefully my Resolution underlined that presence is important for me this year too 😉

Nice post Mervyn.

I have a family that sits on the other sofa, and 2013 for me means striking a better balance between my social media use and the degree to which I am present with them.

As Gareth points out, I need to think about going and sitting on the other sofa sometimes.

So I am now off to enjoy the rest of my 5 day skiing holiday with the 13yo.

Thanks for checking in from the slopes Ian, hope the holiday is going well. If I can use a reference taken from the title of the hosting blog…it is often about juggling time – work, children, partners, downtime.

Great post Mervyn I have a voice that comes from the other side of the sofa, bed, car, shopping trolley…..just kidding 🙂 As you say the voice was pleased when I decided to leave my job and find another last year and was able to do so very rapidly (within 4 weeks!)

There is a balance to be had and I am working on restoring that balance but nonetheless creating and contributing to social channels is something I love doing. I sometimes wonder what stems this irritation from my OH. He doesn’t complain if I am doing housework, reading a book or baking for example. Is it the same for anyone esle?

Great comment Hayley! OH here would much prefer me to be doing housework than being on the computer 😉 It is a question of finding the right balance.

[…] Day 36: The Voice From The Other Sofa […]

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