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Posted by on in Uncategorized

It's all very well putting books on trains and getting nice reviews from people we know, but if we want people in any numbers to read the book and take our messages on board, we need to get coverage in both conventional and 'new' media.

The first few calls made on our behalf all sound very positive, but of course the 'proof of the pudding' is whether anything useful appears in the public domain. You won't be surprised to hear that Judith and I are making every effort to harness our own networks to encourage that coverage rather than relying on 'cold' calls by Katherine, our PR manager.

One of the interesting things about networking as a topic is that it's relevant to the media across both job function and industry sector, so the range of periodicals and sites we'll be speaking to is pretty huge.

As we 'press the button' on our PR activity, I realise that the URL to the 'media resources' page on the website is a long and convoluted string that needs to be abbreviated to something neater. I'm also perplexed to find that the authors photos and book cover graphics that were there have disappeared.  Another thing to add to the 'to do' list which somehow never gets any shorter, however many items I tick off.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Today it's St. Pancras that has the pleasure of my company, but the ticket barriers, complex platform arrangements and presence of the Eurostar all make this a more difficult nut to crack.  So first stop is the Station Manager's office, where I come across my first hint of 'more than my job's worth' and 'need to talk to the PR people'. I'm invited to take a seat for a few minutes while the chap concerned disappears behind the scenes. I'm beginning to think that I might have run up against a brick wall when he reappears and OK's the issue of a visitor's pass.

Fully badged up, and having read and signed the safety instructions, it's back to the trains. Books go on trains to places like Sheffield and Corby, but when it comes to the Eurostar, I have visions of an immense bureaucratic hassle given security, customs, passport control and the like. But I gird my loins and approach the customer services desk. The lady across the desk is at first mildly suspicious but breaks into a broad smile as I explain what I'm trying to do.  "What a great idea," she exclaims, and calls her colleagues over. The upshot is that I get escorted to the Paris and Brussels trains, and leave three books on each. Three books get placed by staff in the departure lounge and another two go to members of staff who are keen to read the book and pass it on.

For those trains for which St. Pancras is the terminus, things are straightforward.  But for others (such as Brighton, Sevenoaks and St. Albans), St. Pancras is just a calling point. Trying to get three books on to these trains without finding myself going on an unscheduled journey- or worse, causing a security alert through being seen to hop on and off trains in a suspicious manner- calls for some planning. I ask the station manager for help, and she's both cheerful and delighted to help. One of the station staff is tasked to come down to the platform with me, and I request the loan of a hi-vis jacket so that I can clearly be seen by passenegers to be 'official'. This has the un-anticipated downside that several people approach me to ask for help.

Between the two of us, we get the requisite three books on to each train without mishap. My bag is again empty, but there are still a few destinations to do so one last visit is called for, but it won't be for a while.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Today sees the 'book on train' project take off in earnest as I travel to King's Cross with a very heavy bag full of books. To avoid the risk of creating a security alert, I've spoken to the PR people at both Network Rail and one of the Train Operating Companies, but it's clear that the people I really need to get 'buy in' from are the crew leaders on each train.
The plan is to put three copies on the book on trains travelling to each of the final destinations served by the King's Cross/St. Pancras hub. Why three? No very good reason other than a compromise between budget and logistics (posh word for how many I can label, carry and track). Why each final destination when several trains share part of the route? Only because each destination represents a terminal node on the network.
The crew leaders are, without exception, helpful and (to a greater or lesser extent) interested in the project.  Not one feels the need to refer to Higher Authority to get the OK.
My bag gradually gets lighter as I tick off the list of destinations, and I get an echo of the 'road not travelled' as I opt to place a book on one table rather than another, potentially changing the person that picks it up and the entire course of that book's travels.

I run out of books before I run out of destinations, so I'm going to have to refill my bag and come back tomorrow.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

When you first arrived at this website, you'll have seen a big button on the front page labelled 'I Found Your Book!'
Up until today, no-one could find a book because there weren't any to find. But that's all changed. This morning, the East Coast mainline train I took to Newcastle had three extra passengers- specially labelled copies of 'The Network Effect' that invite finders to take the book with them and log on to this website to tell us where they'd found the book, and where they plan to leave it.
Each of the books has a unique ID and a nickname, so that finders will be able to track their book via this blog and a twitter feed. We have no idea whether the project will work, or where books may end up- but that's half the fun of research into networks and networking!
It's not long before we have our first 'bite': a copy of the book nicknamed 'Hugo' has been found on a train coming BACK to King's Cross and the finder tells us that he'll be leaving the book at Stansted aiport.
Will 'The Network Effect' in the shape of 'Hugo' be going abroad? Time will tell (we hope...)

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

I'll be the first to admit that one has to take Amazon reviews (or those of any other un-moderated site) with a pinch of salt. How many book reviews are penned by the author's proud mother? How many restaurant, hotel or product reviews by their owners (or indeed jealous competitors, in the case of appalling ones)?
But aside from one review that we asked our PR person to write, because that's her job, all the other 25 (at time of writing) come from people who have given what we have every reason to believe is an honest appraisal of what we've written. Most reviews give us five stars, and a few give us four.
To date, there's nothing lower than that. In an interesting aside on human nature, one reviewer confided to us that "I would have given it five stars, but on-one ever believes five star reviews so I gave it four instead." We're extracting some nuggets from these reviews and putting them up here on the website, but you can see all Amazon reviews here.
At no. 174,663 in the Amazon rankings, we're clearly not yet a top 10 bestseller, which doesn't worry us too much as a) we never expected to be; and b) we haven't told the big wide world about the book yet. Watch this space.

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