Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Relationship 2.0

Web 2.0: The Architecture of Interaction
Web 2.0. It's a term we all know because, in fact, its existed along with the earliest elements of the World Wide Web, and includes social networking, co-creativity, collaboration and sharing. That means that social networking sites, wikis, blogs and other syndicated content were foretold in the creation of the Web.

Like Eric Schmidt famously said: "Don't fight the internet." Instead, he suggested using the power of the web as a platform for business and social interactions--an "architecture of interaction." That challenged me to use my website as more than just a web-based business brochure. And I've still got more north to go.

Relationship 1.0: Gaming the System
I love every single bit of electronic social networking with one caveat: I'm not sure if I'm all that interested in Web 2.0 if all we do is bring Relationship 1.0 to the party.

We all know the elements of Relationship 1.0. You can find them at every "networking event," for example, with people in a death match where the object is to (1) sell something to someone rather than connect, (2) figure out what can be gained rather than given and (3) promote a homunculus of oneself and never the authentic you. Extra points for having taken a class on smiling and handshakes (don't laugh, because they're out there). Then, dash home to add all those names to your newsletter mailing list and send out all of those "special offers" to buy your merchandise. If they didn't want you to send them endless stuff, they wouldn't have given you their digits. Right? Not according to the CAN SPAM Act (which arose because of internet abuses).

Trouble is: no one who goes to networking events goes looking to become your next customer. They went hoping you'd become their next customers. Trust me. I get to do my fair share of public speaking: I've asked.

Learn About You? I'd Have to Care
Twitter automation through services like Tweet Later are compounding the problem. Designed to help people manage their welcome and other tweets, these services are leading to some curious situations. For example, I routinely get welcome messages from other coaches asking me to join a teleclass or webinar or sign up for a free coaching session. I've been coaching for almost 18 years. Clearly they haven't read my bio. Now, I understand that having large numbers of followers, it can be tough to read the bios of every new follower, crafting a welcome message to each. And truth telling here: I use an automated welcome message service (I get sometimes 30 new followers a day and want to thank them for following). What i have found that works, is to click back through recent additions and sending a response to one of their more meaty tweets to let them know I'm listening. Also, I read profiles before I re-tweeet (forward a tweet) or reply the first time--just for context.

Follow Me, Follow You
There's quite a bit of strange controversy surrounding whether it is noblier in the web to follow people who follow you. Twitter notables like Guy Kawasaki suggest you're a lose if you don't. But that would mean, in Web 1.0 terms, that you would have been obliged to put everyone on a newsletter mailing list who put you on one. If Twitter users had to pay for the followers by level, there would be less of that nonsense going on. Like the book says, (they) just might not be into you. But that doesn't mean you can't be into them.

Relationship 2.0, then, is about the birds in the bush and not those in the hand--about connecting people to our connections. About paying the richness of our lives and relationships forward.

Think about it when you get (or give) that next self-serving tweet about that next business offer.