I caught up with people champion Doug Shaw’s blog What goes around, today.
As ever it made me think.
Doug recently connected with a longstanding, trans-continental contact of ours, Canadian employee engagement flag bearer David Zinger. I’ve collaborated on a number of unique publications with David in the past and he has been racking up the air miles, characteristically extolling his own take on the virtues of networking through the unique perspective of the honey bee.
There’s an awful lot to like about David’s metaphor and his seemingly relentless enthusiasm for the ever-expanding engagement space. But I have noticed a number of cross-cultural differences in how the various nationalities approach what most people begrudgingly call “networking”. Regardless of whether it’s online, or face to face, the variances persist, they cause some dynamic tension and for some reason, the Atlantic ocean marks the fault line for many of the differences.
Perhaps it has something to do with the diverse ways we view sincerity vs irony, authenticity vs schmooze or dishonesty vs spin. But there’s little doubt that many of our American cousins take to the buzz of online business “networking” far more readily than their European counterparts. And they appear to have very different informal rule books.
Consider Facebook, for example. Despite the “must have a presence” paranoia, I’ve never believed that it was viable as a business development tool. It was never developed for that purpose. It came as no surprise therefore, that Google+ was invented to re-compartmentalise users and their networks and save everyone from the ignominy of having their sibling’s peccadilloes exposed against their will while discovering that what went on tour a decade ago, sadly hasn’t remained on tour.
It was never really viable to exchange business pleasantries with clients and prospects while swapping notes about Uni legends with reunited friends.
I guess, if we’re interested, we all need to experiment in the online networking space and to set the fault line between personal and business at our comfort level ourselves, while respecting that of our contacts. Perhaps so-called social media may actually be helping us fine tune our empathy receivers within our respective hives? Perhaps!
It’s certainly challenging us and making us think and that has to be a positive thing.
There’s much about the buzz about bees and colonies that makes sense. It’s important, from a business perspective that we all find ways to connect that we’re comfortable with. Sadly, however, not everything clad in yellow and black is benevolent. Contacts can sometimes turn out to be a waspish, buzzing nuisance. Especially if they see the entire social media playground as an open venue for endless self-promotion, not recognising that some people may simply be trying to enjoy a sociable, relaxed picnic and are not waving but swatting.
Bees vs Wasps (some observations)
Networking bees: add value; build value; practice what they preach; cover some virtual mileage; leave the network a better place; respond to the differing needs of complex audiences; make it clear that there is a sting in the tail & that they have something to sell (like most people) and aren’t ashamed of it becuse they know its a valuable commodity
Intrusive wasps: lead with the sting; cover just as much ground; make an awful lot of noise; persist when it’s fruitless; appearance and actions are contradictory; fail to listen and react and give very little back