In 2009 I was on a IBM Redbook team, today I am again.
I love it. This is such a great opportunity to learn, to meet, to share and to get a glimpse into how other people topple topics like Social, Collaboration and connecting at the business level.
I’ve come a long way over the last few years. Back then I arrived in Cambridge, MA for a three week Residency not knowing anything about the people I was about to experience a very intensive three weeks with. Being hesitant and even feeling a bit awkward. Apart from their names I didn’t have a clue who they were and what they did. Getting to know them took several days.
This time things are different, totally different.
Right from the moment I got my acceptance letter I started connecting. Googling the names in the mail, finding, following and interacting with them on Twitter, trying to get an idea who they were from their Social profiles and reading up on blogs and published materials. Now not all of them had an online (public) presence but in general you can find a lot. And so it was that when I flew out to Raleigh, NC on Saturday I’d already arranged to meet up for dinner that night through twitter and spent the rest of the weekend exploring Raleigh together.
No, not people I had previously met but people I only knew from twitter and who’s only connection with me was that we were all going to be on the same Residency. By using social tools to connect we got a head start in talking about the things we were going to talk about in the Residency, getting an idea of each persons specialties, interests and areas of expertise and doing exactly what we where there for: Share & learn.
So when I tweeted about being in the ITSO Redbook facility with the Social Business Social Media team today and got this tweet reply:
LOL why does the “social team” need to get together in person…or even use email for that matter?
I couldn’t help but reflect on that. Because although I really love and ‘live‘ the Social ideal, I also believe that it is NOT a replacement for face-to-face meetings in doing business. It’s not there to take over or replace. Its simply a strategy to build stronger ties, be it active (by engaging with people) or inactive (by sharing so people can find you and learn about you). But more importantly it is about building trust. If you would have said three years ago that I would fly half across the world, arrive, meet up with this person I’d never seen or talked too before and had only exchanged about four 140 character messages with and go out for dinner 3 minutes later…..I think I would have declared you crazy.
Social has come a long way in making this possible and we’re only at the beginning. It is about being out there and being true to yourself and your environment. It’s about accountability that fosters trust and its about enjoying that human need for connection.
So call me an idealist but in a world torn apart by wars and mistrust the ‘Social’ revolution clearly proofs that that fundamental need for a human connection is as strong as ever. Especially in Business.