My High School graduation occurred on a football field on a warm Spring New England morning almost 30 years ago. As the graduates left the field that day, so did the connections that many of us held with one another. Some of us went to college; others went to work; and some got married. But none of us had a mechanism to stay in touch automatically.
My son’s High School graduation occurred on a football field on a hot Southern California afternoon almost three months ago. As the graduates left the field that day, their connections to one another remained unchanged. Just like the generation before them, some went to college; others went to work; and some are planning to get married (yikes!). But unlike their parents, all have an automatic mechanism by which to stay connected. It’s called Facebook.
After college, I stayed in touch with people the old fashioned way…we exchanged annual Christmas cards with “Family Letters” stuffed into them:-) My son, on the other hand, receives daily updates as to the who, what, when, where, why, and how his friends are doing. Instead of the annual highlights that I receive, he sees pictures of friend’s roommates, hears them complain about their professors, and rolls his eyes as they root for their new favorite football teams.
The difference between his social interaction and mine is that my son’s network grows after every life milestone, whereas mine always shrunk. This phenomenon is something that companies need to start thinking about NOW!
Your future employees are building powerful networks that will follow them into your company. What are you doing to prepare for it? Are you making the adjustments necessary to enable those networks to help your business? Are you changing your employment profiles to hire young talent that is not only comfortable creating content online, but who also has access to a deep network of individuals who may be able to help you achieve your corporate goals?
Most companies are simply wrestling with Social Media from a marketing or PR perspective. The thought process can’t stop there. Management must look beyond these simple first-order connections and start recognizing the second-order affects of Social Media. Those who can harness the power of these second-order affects will thrive. The rest will remain disconnected, just like the graduates who walked off of that football field almost 30 years ago.
Photo Credit: Robert Crumb