Actually, Yes, I DO Care What You Had For Lunch

by Ron on June 18, 2009


Guest post by Cheryl McKinnon

I’ll confess.  The knee-jerk response to social media we all hear so frequently has become a little tiresome.  We’re all busy people, but if we encountered a customer, prospect or old work pal in a restaurant and they happily recommended the special to us, would we respond with “Sorry, I’m really too busy to care what you think about the Catch of the Day”?

I think not.

We praise and reward networkers in the ‘real-world’ – salespeople who remember a key client’s birthday, hobby, or alma mater sports team.  Seasoned account executives know that small talk at the coffee shop or on the golf course breaks the ice, humanizes, and creates positive connections.

But these days aren’t we ALL told that we have to be sales people? To be brand ambassadors to the world? To communicate our company values and mission? In-person contact just doesn’t scale for most of us.

In the wired business world, few of us have the luxury of unhurried face-time.  It’s easy to forget that there’s a real person behind the inbox message, at the end of the line of a workflow, anxious and stressed staring at a silent screen.  The late-20th century mindset fixated on transactions rather than relationships and compelled us to feel measured on mouse-clicks.

Social networks and new collaborative media platforms have reintroduced the human voice to business conversation, even if only virtually.  Trust, transparency, authenticity and respect are becoming the new currency of business relationships.

Online engagement with prospects, customers and partners means knowing where they congregate on the Web. What are they talking about? What do they love? What do they hate? What incites an online rant? It could be your new product roadmap. Or perhaps just the cafeteria tuna casserole.  But isn’t it worth knowing which one?

Cheryl McKinnon is the director of the Enterprise 2.0 Program at Open Text Corporation.

Photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon on Flickr

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jason June 18, 2009 at 11:20 am

Chit-chat, small talk, intimate conversation… it is all communication. If you do not wish to hear it from someone on twitter, unfollow. On fb, unfriend. In real life, it gets more complicated. Thumbs-up to this post. It’s called choice people. Exercise it!

2 Larry Roth June 19, 2009 at 12:47 am

Cheryl–I agree that there may be potential value and dare I say–opportunity –in every conversation.

Jason–I also believe it’s all conversation–which is good. And we can totally tune out if we want–which is great!

I will add, however, I feel that we can get more from the conversation and we can have more potential value if people are mindful of what they are saying. For instance, one could tweet: “just had lunch” OR one could tweet: “I just had lunch at Cuomo’s on Park. It was fantastic!” The second tweet is much more of a conversation starter, much more revealing, much more engaging…and it’s not that much harder to write.

What do you guys think?

While the first is valid and tells us about the person

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