Virtual Networks, Real People: Unlocking the Value of Web 2.0

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Originally posted by Chris Jones, a TalentCulture contributing writer. He is an IT Strategy & Change Management consultant, with a passion for driving new levels of engagement and learning in the modern organization. His research areas include the dynamics of organization culture, and more recently, the importance and implications of critical thinking. Check out his blog, Driving Innovation in a Complex World, for more.

If I had a nickel for every person that scoffed at social media, aka Web 2.0, I could take my kids to a movie.  I have 3 kids, so do the math.  That’s a lot of naysayers.

As I try to get to the core of the Web 2.0 adoption problem, I see a simple frustration: people don’t want to deal with an endless stream of new followers and friends, many showering you with waves of tom foolery, pointless status updates, inane games, and the like.

You see it on Facebook the most, but Twitter can offer more of the same. In many ways, it can seem overwhelming.

Break-through thinking.

Looking past all that noise and ignoring the games, there is significant value.

Look closely.

The basic idea is that connecting with a few of these new people can open doors to insight and value on a variety of levels.  After all, most of us enjoy interacting with others.  New, expanded relationships can bring more perspective, depth, and balance to our daily grind.

There’s also signficant value to be found in connecting with a larger community.  These have a variety of memberships or themes.  If you are into blogging, education reform, marketing, local networking – you name it – there are like-minded groups springing up all the time.  Joining the conversation in these groups gets you new friends, new ideas, and a chance to expand your perspective in each area.

In many ways it starts with your willingness to engage, to suspend resistance that may be programmed in by culture or habit, and to open your mind.

What’s in it for me?

Here are some new areas to think about:

– learning, via dialog (not just searching) on specific topics or ideas

– customized news feeds (using hashtags & news sources of interest) with conversation to explore/expand

– social networks

– professional networks

– engagement on social change initiatives

– expanding resources for hobbies and other leisure pursuits

– casual conversation

Any and all are possible.  None are required.  You can spend as much or as little time each day as you have available.  Cup of coffee?  Just the right amount of time to connect to the grid, see what’s happening in your social space, before you get on with your day.

While the opportunities listed are diverse, behind each one you will find interested, engaged people.  They are, much like you, interested in learning more, understanding more, and connecting more.  If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be there.  They are more than likely going to value your insight and participation, because they’re taking the time to be connected.  Just by investing in social media, they are saying,

‘Ok, I’m in. Here’s what I’m bringing to the table’.

To me, that’s a catalyst for an exchange.  A reason to connect.  Someone has sparked a conversation that I have some perspective on.  My response?  Usually along the lines of:

‘Oh really? That’s interesting, I was wondering about that too. Let’s compare notes.’

Just maybe, it’s the start of something.  A chance for some new common ground.  A moment to share a smile, a laugh, or an interesting point of view.  A seed has been planted.  From there, many things are possible.

Start today.

Get a free Twitter account.  Download a free copy of TweetDeck.  Read up a little on hashtags and open your mind.

Ultimately, all that’s required is some thought to your goals, a small investment of daily time in your network, and the willingness to try something new.  The benefit?  The world at your doorstep. Seems like a worthwhile investment to me.  A few nickels in the fountain of opportunity.

What are you waiting for?

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10 Comments

  1. If I had not already started on Twitter, you certainly would have convinced me by what you say here. Earlier I had the impression it was frivolous talk, but once I tried it, I found it was intellectually challenging to narrow a big idea to 140 characters and extremely good for me.

    Chris, thanks for a thoughtful post on social networks and how we can benefit.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Robyn.

    You are right, there can be much craziness to navigate around. I’m glad you’d taken the time to explore further – because so many don’t.

    Also glad that you shared your thoughts here on the blog. Many skip that step as well. Actually, blog posts are where much of the engagement actually happens, with Twitter serving as a means to connect. The deeper conversation often occurs elsewhere – blogs, IM’s, Skype – even (do we dare to believe?) face to face!

    Again, Robyn, thanks for your insights .. very much appreciated.

  3. Really enjoyed this thoughtful post Chris. You are right on. So many people do not take the time to explore the possibilities further.

    As with in person – you have to start the dialogue somewhere! Engaging really is a multi-level process as we discussed recently on #smchat. Twitter is a beginning point to more interesting conversations and relationships. Face to face? Smiles. That is the best part.

  4. Right on the money, Chris. You do still have to filter through the social media muck, but the benefits are boundless and continue to fuel the fire of meeting my network in real-time. Can’t wait to meet all members of the TC gang live someday!

  5. Meghan, Kevin – yes, a live meetup definitely needs to be in the plan.

    I just connected w/ cousins I hadn’t seen in a few years. It’s amazing all the things we have in common, and how easy it is to lose track of that when your only connections are Facebook updates and holiday emails.

    Strong relationships need infusions of quality f2f time.

    But that doesn’t mean we can’t start and/or grow our connections online. We’re doing that now, yes? Maybe f2f is an accelerator, a reinforcer –

    Thanks for the feedback, and for bringing your leadership & energy to Talent Culture. Great to be a part of it –

  6. Chris,
    DItto to all the above! Your post is convincing!

    Innovation is one of the keys to the future. Exploring and experimenting with new technology and stepping outside of our comfort zone is quickly becoming a daily requirement.

    Innovation! The opportunities to learn and connect are endless with Web 2.0!

    Great post!!

  7. Thanks for the note, Hannah. Seems life outside our comfort zones is becoming a familiar place. Hoping that’s a good thing.

    Haven’t been to Rochester since my Kodak days, but I fear the ‘snow season’ approaches. NC? Still warm and snow-free.

    All the best –

    Chris

  8. Thank you for the post, Chris. I’ve been on the Web 2.0 bandwagon for a few months and can’t stop talking to my friends about the usefulness of social media and professional blogging. Twitter may seem overwhelming at first, but like you said, there is a community of like-minded individuals that will give you insight on your current industry or something else that you’re trying to get into and a new way of thinking.

  9. Thanks Chris for initiating the conversation. I’ve been tweetering away since mid-October 2010 and have never felt so engaged in my work ever ! Working out from Ottawa, Canada, in talent management and leadership development, I have found Twitter and LinkedIn as two outstanding collaborative tools to help connect with experts and like-minded people. People make a difference. Each day, I invest time and passion in initiating and engaging in thought-provoking conversations. TalentCulture has become one of my daily stops. Thanks for your post and engagement !

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