flowing motion

Wooo! social media does work!

Posted on: October 21, 2008

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Abrupt change, relocation and HR/OD/Psychologists

Those of us in the HR/OD/Psych trades know absolutely, for sure, that in the next year, we will be helping many people regain their bearings after abrupt changes brought about by house losses, job losses and relocation.  I’ve had some practice at abrupt change because political issues at home have led to relocation first to another country, then to another city, and then again to a third country.

Thank heaven for social media

I arrived in UK 1 year and 5 months ago.  You can always spot a migrant.  We can tell you how long we have been somewhere in months.  This is my third major move and yes, as with all things, we improve with practice.

My last moves were to relatively small places where to all intents and purposes it should have been easy to meet people.  You know, walk down the street and shake hands with each one of them. It didn’t work though.

Coming to the UK was quite different.  There are 60 million people here.  Brits work long hours (50-60 hour weeks) and compute long distances.  I commute  5 hours a day.  One neighbour makes a 100 mile round trip each day in one direction and another goes the same distance in the other direction.  Who has time or energy to say hello?  The commute trains are eerily silent as people sag on well worn seats reading their horoscope in freebe newspapers, playing with their ipod, or just sliding into a fatigue induced sleep.

Yet, is has been easier to meet people here.  And this is why: social media.

What is social media?

Social media is the read-write, two-way web, like Facebook and Twitter.  Social Media is the web we are a little frightened of because we can sit at home and talk to a stranger in a way we might not on that train of exhausted commuters.

So how does it work?  In the ordinary world, to meet people I go along to some semi-public event – like the Christmas party hosted by the gym.  I have nothing in common with anyone else at the party except that we use the same gym.  I hope the gym makes a profit from a party but it is after all a slightly forced and odd social occasion.

Social media has many more applications than Facebook.  A very important one for people who are relocated is Yahoo! Events Upcoming.  By scanning for events within 100 miles of your home  (Brits travel long distances very routinely), you can find events that you are genuinely interested in.  You indicate you will be going and you can look down the attendance list and see not only who else is going but where else they are going.  In that way, you are able to converge very quickly into groups of people who share your interests.

Moreover, the people who use social media understand networking and are more likely to talk to you and introduce you to people at the event.

My experience

I found the inimitable Chris Hambly, guitarist, rugby player, media camp organizer, online education guru and general connector via Yahoo! Events Upcoming.  He kindly referred a journalist to me for an opinion on the media camp he organised, and though my name is spelt wrong, here I am, 17 months after arriving in a new country, quoted in a leading daily!  Thanks Chris.  Thanks, the Guardian.

Social media and HR/OD/Psychology/Coaching

And remember coaches, of all descriptions, when helping people cope with radical transitions, think social media.

And any one interested in the psychology and sociology of social media, please do contact me.  I am also interested in other rapid community building applications which will be important as we deal with the pressures and stresses of the next year to year-and-a-half.

PS The Guardian Link works erratically and often redirects readers to a jobs page.  To get to the article follow [Careers Advice] [Life & Work] [and look for the story on Media Camps]

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2 Responses to "Wooo! social media does work!"

Interesting times! In lots of ways…

Jo – some years ago I was a relocation consultant working wtih client companies moving their people overseas. How different that experience could have been with the social media we have now! I am still in contact with my colleagues from those days and I must ask if they recommend connecting with others using the media available.

I am interested in your comments that you think Brits travel a lot to do things. Here in Scotland I think this is less so . We are a less populated part of the UK and our main cities are clumped together in what is called “the Central Belt” no more than 50 miles apart at any time though I think that maybe means that if it is not happening locally then as far as some people are concerned it is not happening! Thankfully commuting here is usually much shorter than you are experiencing – in distance in any case- transportation delays aside but I still recognise the tired travellers you mention.

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