Can Social Media Replace Face-to-Face Networking? Part Two

Part Two

The Baby Boomer generation grew up without computers. Televisions were just making inroads into the typical American home. Color TVs were expensive and rarely found. Telephone calls were mostly measured by the calls and numbers of minutes. Long distance was used sparingly because you paid by the minute to the Ma Bell monopoly and it wasn’t cheap (that hasn’t changed). You couldn’t find a cell phone or pager. Video conferencing was only used by Dick Tracy and in space movies. Personal music was a 33 or 45 rpm record on your home record player or perhaps a reel-to-reel tape deck if you were sophisticated. Portability was only found in your AM-FM radio.

As technology advanced and Baby Boomers became parents, they saw the need to teach their children by funding the latest technology in the schools. In the 1980’s, the personal computer started a revolution that has rivaled any technology advance in any culture in human history. Apple and IBM slugged it out in the schools for dominance but every school system in the USA planned and acquired computer laboratories. Students took new skills classes for keyboarding, researching and using word processors or spreadsheets. Kids were exposed to the new technology at earlier and earlier ages until it was normal for them.

Contrast that to technology that we enjoy today. Everything is portable and instantly available. What we consider normal are large screen HD TVs, tiny cell phones that get Internet and email, music on iPods and books on Kindles. We have 3G and 4G networks that let our air cards connect our laptops and IP phones to the Internet anywhere we sit down. Seemingly crazy people walking down the street talking and laughing to themselves usually have a Bluetooth StarTrek device in their ear and really are talking to another person. We never have to be out of touch. is that a blessing or a curse?

How has all of this advancement in technology and the way we depend upon it changed our interactions with each other? Baby Boomers grew up playing board games or outdoor sports together in groups large and small. They read analog books by manually flipping page by page. They researched school reports by physically going to the libraries and searching card catalogs, followed by hoping to find the right volume in the stacks. Most of all, they talked to each other and developed specific social skills face-to-face. The modern child spends far too much time on an individual basis, entertaining themselves with personal games, music, TV, and online sites. There is just not the same emphasis placed on face-to-face interaction with other children. The learned personal skill sets are not the same and are less effective than the Baby Boomers who had to interact with each other.

Is it all a bad thing? No, not all of it. The modern child has grown up with advanced technology and is therefore more comfortable in using it. Where Baby Boomers are sometimes hesitant to try out a new variation on their computer or something radical like an iPad, the younger generations fully embrace and master them much faster. The advancements coming out today are driven by the imagination of the younger generations that grew up with computer technology. They own the future. Just ask them.

So then how has this change in generational knowledge and skills affected how people do business together? Does the Baby Boomer that is comfortable doing face-to-face networking have an edge over the more technical younger business person? Does the younger networker have and use the advantage of multiple methods of connection at their fingertips that much better than the Baby Boomer? Which method is more likely to build the trust and confidence necessary to convince the contact to become a client?

In Part Three we will investigate how Social Media developed into what we know it is today and how it has changed the course of business.

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