Shhh…The Online Speakeasy

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By The BottleSome of our regular readers of 12× and By The Bottle (Have you not downloaded issue 2 yet?  Shame on you.  Get it here – in English in portrait mode and switches to Chinese in landscape mode!  It is SO COOL!) Anyway, some of them have suggested that we start a LinkedIn group wherein we can discuss issues from the wine industry raised by the blog and the magazine.  So we’ve decided to do it.

If you are familiar with LinkedIn you will know that it is the stiff upper lipped cousin of Facebook and Twitter wherein a level of polite professionalism is generally expected.  Like Facebook, you can grow a large network of connections but rather than just adding people you knew at school because you want to look at their photos to see if they got fat, instead, you send a polite, humourless connection request to someone you may or may not know very well indicating that you met them at a recent conference in Slough and found their views on the budget deficit absolutely fascinating, and mostly they will politely accept your request.  And then you will be “LinkedIn professional acquaintances” rather than “Facebook friends.”  You will share business tips with them, and unlike Facebook you will never get into a drunken discussion with them about who is better, Ant or Dec, that has the outcome that you end up calling them a buffoon and un-friending them.  (Does this happen on Facebook?  If so, I’ve been missing out.)  Regular users of LinkedIn live in perpetual fear that their two online social lives will one day find out about one another and those pictures of you in Kavos drinking shots of tequila off a semi-naked waiter on your 21st birthday that are floating around Facebook even though you’ve un-tagged yourself will creep into your professional sector.

There are a lot of wine themed groups on LinkedIn.  Their discussions can get a bit heavy sometimes, but they always stay just on the right side of polite business etiquette; even when all parties concerned are seething with rage, they still politely agree to politely disagree.  While it is pretty funny to start one of these politely explosive conversations and then just watch it unfold, I couldn’t help thinking that a group that is not dominated by professional politeness might be rather fun.  So, I started one.  It’s called “Shhh…The Online Speakeasy”.  At the moment it is just me having polite conversations with myself while I wait for new members to turn up, so the sooner we can start populating the group, the better.

You can find the group here or alternatively you can send me a polite connection request indicating that you met me at a tasting in Birmingham and although you were disgusted by my views on Californian Merlot, you were mesmerised with my interpretation of different vine training methods through dance.  I am an open networker so I will accept your connection (even if we haven’t met), and send you an invitation to the group (please make it clear that you want to join).  And you can find my profile here.  Please don’t laugh at my ultra-businesslike profile picture.  My bosses insisted on it.  Unfortunately, there didn’t previously seem to be any pictures in which I didn’t have a massive glass of wine in my hand.

Although I make fun of the enforced politeness of LinkedIn, it really is a great tool and I am very excited about the interactive element of our group.  The hot topic at the moment is, what do you think of By the Bottle?  People are downloading it but we’d really love to get some feedback from our readers, particularly readers in China because this is the first issue to be released in Chinese.  But in general, we just want to know what you think – both 12× and By The Bottle are still relatively new, and the blog took off so quickly we’ve barely had time to stop and think about it.  We’d love to know what you think of it and hear your suggestions.

Come and join us (well, me) in Shhh…The Online Speakeasy – I promise it will be a lot of fun.

I’m trying to think of it as a massive virtual glass of wine.  Mid-morning.