Social Business

Earlier this year I attended a presentation by Anne Bartlett-Bragg from Headshift. She had been invited to present to my class by my programme director, Nick Wailes (i’m currently studying for a Masters at Sydney Uni). AnneBB decided to present to us on the subject of managing our personal brand. I found the ideas she was suggesting completely eye opening. The underlying theme was that we (graduates, well anyone really) can leverage social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to enhance our recruitment prospects for the future. I’m not going to lie. The prospects took me by suprise.

We all had Facebook. Some of us had LinkedIn. We were told about how recruiters now look into our online profiles to find out more about us as a potential employee. We’ve all heard those horror stories from Facebook about the employer who discovers the staff member who was ‘ill’ was actually out partying! (see this blog for some more examples). But, to have someone explain to us the benefits of actually realising that these online spaces form your own personal brand really brought the importance of social to the forefront of my mind. Not to say that there wern’t those more critical to the social phenomenon. But by the end of the presentation there were definitely more advocates than critics.

After the presentation I managed to grab AnneBB and I told her about how interesting I found what she had to say. Luckily for me, around a month or so later, after a trip to the Philippines, being hospitalised with dengue fever, an infection and enlarged liver (probably worth a separate post), I was interning at Headshift.

I spent the winter being immersed in the workings of a social business consultancy, and what striked me then, and still strikes me now, is how invaluable the social trends are to business. Similarly to the presentation AnneBB gave to my class, in the business world there are critics and there are advocates. The main problem is the preconception a number of managers have on social tools being for the personal use of individuals at home and completely inappropriate for work. From my experience so far, in some cases the only exposure some clients have had to these tools are seeing their children chatting with their mates on Facebook, or reading a news article about Twitter in the Sydney Morning Herald.

This preconception of what benefit social tools can have for business is wrong but to some extent understandable. Websites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, GoogleReader and so on, are the sole collection of social tools that a large number of people are exposed to. What businesses are beginning to realise is that what is more important is the concept, the flow of information within these sites, the proximity people have with one-another without geography.

I’m still learning about a great deal but what impresses me is the benefit these collaborative ideas and systems can have on organisations. Efficiencies, cost-savings, cross-departmental collaboration and so on.

There are a number of challenges we face now, and new ones we will face in the future, but for the time being I’m happy to say I’m an advocate of social business.

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