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Monday, May 04, 2009

U.S. MID-ATLANTIC: Social Networking – Training the Next Generation

by Bruce Newman, U.S. Mid-Atlantic Bureau Chief
(New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, DC)

I was watching my son interact with his friends on Xbox 360 live last night. Playing in advanced mode, they had to coordinate all of their actions to win their game. There was my son telling his friends where they should move and who should protect whom. It was truly impressive to watch how they worked as a team. In fact, even when they completed their very intense game, my son still talked with them as he walked into our kitchen to get something to drink.

It made me wonder; is this the future of networking?

And I would have to say, yes. Kids - Generations Y and Z (Millennium) have embraced instant communication, remaining in constant contact through a multitude of modalities – all of which appear as natural extensions to them. Even their socialization is more group oriented than in previous generations. Going out in groups instead of one-on-one is now the accepted norm. They are constantly instant messaging each other, writing on each other’s Facebook walls, text messaging and sometimes even speaking with each other face to face.

So, how does this affect business networking?

Do you have a Twitter account? Or Facebook? Or LinkedIn or any other social account? Do you have a blog? Most people have at least one and should have more. Relationships are built, nourished and grown through these applications. There are a number of people on my various networks that started out as contacts and whom I can now truly call friends and business partners.

Would you have even considered creating a MySpace account five years ago? (Be honest.) Few people did. Today, there are many social websites and many more under development. Whether or not they add value depends on both their capabilities and the quality and use of the relationships constructed by their subscribers. Increasingly powerful tools such as Google Friend Connect allow people to connect through any number of social media sites. Gmail and Google Latitude allow us to locate and visually communicate with people on our network by literally, the click of a button.

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Networking is more than just attending events and passing out business cards. It’s about interacting with people. It’s quality versus quantity. The days of having a Verizon representative merely collecting as many business cards as he can at an event are rapidly ending, being replaced by a medium that is fast-moving and based on the development of quality relationships.

Which brings me back to my son and his video games. Many behavioral experts decry the violence of video games – which I certainly don’t deny. Yet, while advocating their position, they overlook one key benefit: the ability to develop and maintain social interactions through this medium. When I see my son get up in the morning and check his Facebook account, sometimes discuss what he and his friends accomplished the previous night or text a friend, I realize how interconnected this world is and how adept and socially networked is this new generation; no training required.

Bruce Newman, an expert on consulting, is the mid-Atlantic
editor for The National Networker and the Vice President at The Productivity Institute, LLC. The Productivity Institute has provided consultant and client-centered solutions that significantly increase productivity and profitability to small and mid-sized companies since 2000. Subscribe to our informative and free newsletter (circ 6,000+), receive our RSS feed, and read and comment on our blog. Bruce can be contacted at

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