Friends, family, candidates for hire, new hires, employers, employees, managers, vendors, colleagues, algorithmic bots, cookies: the climate of social and mobile is cluttered and rich and very complex. We are a truly social and mobile world now. But in terms of true relationship building, now that some of us have engaged or even mastered social, let’s think about it. When I visited Ireland for the amazing IT @Cork European Conference in 2015, I got excited about new developments and friendships forged, such as the way we can bring more women into the field, and support my sisters on their way up the STEM ladder.
But the gorgeous “paradox” was that here we were, humans all, doing the face to face thing. Everyone there was in a great mood. It made me think about where we’re going from here. I’m always trying to improve the quality of networking in business, especially where it relates to HR, social business and technology — the front lines of talent and branding, the rankings. HR is transforming itself due to technology, and trying hard to do the same in terms of mobile and social. Still, here are three trends in networking that may yet change the way we build lasting relationships:
- It’s vast.
Here are some numbers that, by virtue of proportion, are kind of remarkable. Networking on mobile and social has reached incredible proportions. By January of this year, the world population was more than 7.2 billion. The world had more than 2 billion active social media accounts — that’s 29% of the world’s population. And 1.65 billion of those accounts are accessed via mobile.
- It’s going vertical.
Vertical, or niche social networks, are a moment, particularly in the world of work. It’s a highly human tendency to tribe up into groups of like-minded, similarly trained bands of co-professionals. Not surprisingly, we trust them more as a means to share valuable professional information, though we’ll see if that’s a myth or a truth. For doctors, for example, the niche network Doximity states that apparently half of the 800,000 doctors in the U.S. use it. For purposes of recruiting, it may be tricky format: narrowing the focus may inadvertently squeeze out some great talent. Or it may enable better metrics and more successful hires.
- It requires more than mobile and social.
To forge the kind of fluid, highly connected, highly functional alliances we all need to get our work done, we actually need to stop considering social and mobile as the be-all end-all requisites. Branded content can so easily masquerade as real-time, and we’re so skilled at churning out messages that we’ve endowed them has a chameleon-like facility to be whatever they need to appear to be by changing a keyword or a format. But humans need to maintain their human-ness in messaging: manage your social and mobile presence — your personal brand — so that it reflects your offline (as in genuinely human) character. This sounds subtle, but it’s not: however quick your responses or adept you are at mastering social, you need to infuse them with a deep and clear sense of emotional intelligence. That takes a certain amount of empathy in how you craft and manage your online accounts.
My sense after spending so much time happily chatting away face to face in Cork is that we can’t give up the real for the virtual, no matter how convenient it may be. So much of our work and time is spent in these platforms that it’s possible we’re eroding our own sense of what it means to be human. But this has been an amazing year, so far. I’m looking forward to seeing how all the pieces fit together.
A version of this was first posted on Forbes.