Olympian Leverages Social Media

Most businesses using social media are trying to find the right formula to allow them to network with clients and business partners, minimize risk in what’s being posted online, and generate a regular stream of content without breaking the budget.

For three-time Olympic rower and silver medalist (Beijing 2008) David Calder, his Web presence and social networking activities are not just a way to inform rowing fans and even the media about what he’s doing. It’s also a calculated business strategy to help him make a living and support his family so that he can train for the 2012 Olympics in London. His Website, http://DavidCalder.ca, includes a live feed of his Twitter posts or “tweets” as well as a blog.  It’s also linked to his Facebook account.

Web 2.0 and social networks

Calder’s friend and fellow rower Scott Parfitt (General Manager of GO Rowing & Paddling Association of Canada) developed the first Website just after Beijing, then redesigned it using WordPress, a popular open source content management platform. “It’s been a steep learning curve. On the one hand I’m trying to develop profile and product —  that is, Dave Calder — and the intent there is very self-serving: to allow me to go to another Olympics. On the other side I’m getting involved with these various campaigns. It all happens with these online social networks now. It’s all digital media.”

One of those campaigns is the Project BlueSky (http://ProjectBluesky.ca), an  environmental initiative. In addition to his day job with the BC Public Service, David also does professional speaking engagements, serves as the National Spokesperson for Dynamic Opportunities For Youth, and is the Vice Chair of Victoria New Professionals (Subsidiary of IPAC Victoria).

Continuum of connectivity
Then, of course, there’s the rowing. Calder is planning to start training full-time for the next Olympics in March 2010, which will mean leaving his current post with the BC Government.  He wants his Website and his social networks, which are linked to his site, to drive paying business opportunities to him so that he can be self-sufficient during pre-Olympics training.

Calder says social media has been an effective communications and marketing tool so far. “When people meet me they have that immediate connection. When I speak in front of an audience and they want to learn more, they can learn everything in one spot. But it’s not just about a destination, it’s about that continuum of connectivity though the tweets and the blogs. It’s a place where they can connect with me.“

Garth Von Buchholz is the President and digital media producer at DigitalPractices Media Inc. (http://DigitalPractices.com) in Victoria. Email: Garth@DigitalPractices.com