Gary Thomas Talks About LinkedIn, Facebook, the Muncie Pole and More
Gary Thomas, president of Thomas Business Machines, talks about the impact of LinkedIn and social media in the market. Photo: Rick Yencer
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - In the world of social media, LinkedIn is a big and fast network to find a career by college students and job seekers and for employers to capture that new intern or rising sales or management star.
And Gary Thomas, president of Thomas Office Machines, offered a few tips Thursday to members of Easy Central Indiana Social Media Group to make the most of networking with popular LinkedIn, that has 189 millions users, is preferred by 39 percent of hiring managers and hits that all important 18-24 year-old demographic.
By day, Thomas sells printers, copies and other business machines, but always looks how to interconnect what he sells to social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and those quick stop QR codes that look like a puzzle, but are a shortcut to websites, discount coupons and other content. He's the third generation of his family business that commands a space on Kilgore Avenue next to Beech Grove Cemetery..
He also is known online for creating a Facebook page for that utility pole that sits in the intersection of Jackson and Tillotson after construction of the new CVS Pharmacy and accompanying street work next to it.
That post was picked up by more than a dozen newspapers and had thousands of followers online. And it translated into dozens of calls and even some business after people found out who posted he pole.
"We just do things differently," said Thomas, like a salmon swimming upstream.
That includes using LinkedIn as a primary sources of employment, finding interns with unique work and education experience. He also uses LinkedIn for business referrals, explaining how social media also is lucrative in attracting clients, including a recent $500,000 piece of business.
Like any social media, Thomas said it is up to the user to make the most of it. That means updating information and keeping up with referrals and contacts. And Thomas suggested to be as unique and different as possible to stand out in the hundreds, thousands and millions of users. He used an example of a job hunter who handed out cards with no more than a QR code on it.
Thomas along with Todd Rimer, a marketing advisor with element212, anticipated the next best and new social media would be simple and quick to use. That's how Twitter with its limited character count and hash tags works over what some call the boring, bulky Facebook that is starting to wane. And there are niche sites like Foursquare and Tumblr that are catching more, younger users/
"Just pick a couple," said Thomas, about using social media and make sure they fit your purpose and need.
Or as Wil Davis, intern president of the Ball State Innovation Corp. says, possibly social media will give way to people just talking face to face again. That's a daring statement from the man who helped found Ontario Systems and worked in software and technology much of his life.
The social media group of local technology, marketing and media folks meets monthly at the Muncie Innovation Connector on White River Boulevard near downtown. It houses a variety of software, technology and media companies besides the university's innovation and technology effort.