We needed to sell the car belonging to my in-laws. I thought of a few ways to get the details out to my contacts (none of the ways that came to mind were print media by the way). So, I wrote a quick blurb about the car, and posted a photograph on Facebook. No sooner had I hit the ‘return’ key on my computer, when a note popped up from a friend 50 miles away saying his dad wanted to buy the car. In less than a few minutes we had arranged a look at the car and an eventual sale. As a side, I posted the car on another list and had so many responses; I had to write them down by contact time, which was often separated by 30 seconds. Now back to the friend and his dad…do you see the speed in which that transaction took place? I posted the car’s sale, he saw it on Facebook, called his dad, then sent me a note within about 2 minutes. If that impressive speed of communication is lost on you, then the rest of this blog will be also.
I do, however, hope the reader understands the communication age in which we live….but I am not sure we actually do. Let’s just focus on Facebook to see how communication is changing a lot in our world. Most people I know have a Facebook page (or their companies have an official page). But I am not sure most people understand the connections that are powerfully associated with Facebook. I oversee an official FB page for my employer, so let me use it as an example. You have friends, who have friends, who have friends and so on. If you post something and a friend of yours ‘shares’ it on their page, you actually are sharing with more than those who might see it one time in your personal friends list. I posted an article about a former Dean of the school for which I work. Twenty-four people shared this story with their friends on their Facebook page. That single story was then connected to over 1,000 people…instantly. Now, currently on our official FB page, we have nearly 680 people who ‘Like’ us. In the ‘Friends of Fans’ analytics, those fans connect us potentially to 250,000 people, if they share a story that we post. I do not have the dollar resources to buy print advertisement to cover that many people….but through telling a compelling story to my Facebook Fans, I can reach thousands instantly, globally.
I hope those of us in the Midwest get the point of this. We are no longer isolated. We are globally connected. If something happens in the Midwest, people worldwide can know about it instantly. Decisions and service to people can happen instantly instead of by hoping someone will see the shingle hanging outside your door, walk through the Yellow pages, or read your local advertisement and buy something from you. An old paradigm of the Midwest is banking on someone reading your advertisement. The new Midwest is seeing the potential of billions of customers and finding ways to entice some to do business with them. That innovative thinking means it doesn’t really matter any longer where your company is based; it matters more about the speed of your internet connection and ability to effectively use it to tell your story. As an example, I listened to a CEO of a company via a web conference who was teaching from his laptop (which was on the screen in front of me) while he was in his RV at the Grand Canyon. Internet plus innovative thinking plus ability to understand globalization equals competing from any location.
Let me provide a few more examples of expanding your mindset, a few items that took place over a few weeks in my own work assignment. I facilitated a web session with people physically located in California, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio, but we were together on a computer screen. I tweeted a friend visiting in the Middle East about something on my mind and he tweeted back in a matter of minutes. One of our students was traveling in Israel on a study program and I registered him for classes via the medium of Facebook. I have Facebook friends…..people I actually know personally who happen now at this stage of their lives live in other places worldwide…with whom I share stories, photos, and what is happening in our lives daily (these friends are in India, China, New Zealand, Mexico, and Africa). And every morning, via Twitter, I read headlines (and full articles if I choose) from the LA Times, NY Times, and India Times. Every morning I can now in a matter of minutes what is happening worldwide over the past hour.
The old paradigm of communication is no longer the preferred mode of connection and we are doomed if we think we can ride along without adapting to globalization. Ask Encyclopedia Britannica what happens when a company does not adapt over time….(if you don’t know, they stopped publishing the print encyclopedia). And don’t be prejudiced by the ignorant pictures (a tangled mess of wires on a telephone pole) being passed around the internet showing the call centers in India…..I’ve seen the call centers personally….they don’t look like this at all….they look like the mirrored glass and steel skyscrapers we are finding in most cities today in the US….just like the one you might be working in.
If you have a Facebook page, welcome to globalization. If that hasn’t crossed your mind, let it be the starting point to learn about the age in which we now live. The challenge is taking what we learn from our personal use of the web and electronic media and multiplying it by thousands of creative and innovative minds who have figured out this mode of network for business and service. If we get a glimpse of that we will realize the old Midwest Mindset will not serve us well in the decades to come.
Blessings for this day and those ahead.