The world I was born into is not the same world that I woke up in this morning. It is a far different place. I was born into a world where AM radio was more popular than television. In fact, the world I was born into was black & white and, at best, only received three channels. It was a world where it took a dime and a phone booth to be able to reach out and touch someone when you were away from home. It was a world where stationary and postage stamps were essential items for relaying information. It was a world where conversations were conducted face-to-face rather than on Facebook.
The world I grew up in was essentially “disconnected,” a place where someone had to be present to answer the phone. If reaching them was important then you had to call again – and again, repeatedly. Now you can text them instantly and even follow them on Twitter. Thanks to advanced technology the world is now “connected” and the implications of living in this new world are not comprehended. In fact, even the most ardent social media guru is still a child at play in this sandbox of instant messaging, micro-blogging and social networking. Together, every one of us shares a common pursuit: Learning to adapt to life in the “connected” world. We have no choice. Because the “disconnected” world we were all born into simply doesn’t exist anymore. There is no going back to the past; the future is now.
In my opinion, it is this reality that has had the greatest impact on our economy. We have built a world of commerce that is established in old school, disconnected principles and processes. Corporate America was ill prepared for the sudden shift of conducting business through command-and-control rather than through teamwork-and-collaboration. Corporate America was caught off-guard when their advertising models of “pushing” their products and services yielded unsatisfactory results. This was especially alarming in comparison with strategically launched social media marketing campaigns designed to “pull” their customers into a conversation rather than into a sales pitch. A new global economy has replaced what existed before; an economy that emphasizes relationship and rewards those who understand the key to creating value is through conversations.
Thus, in the “connected” world of the relationship economy, new business models featuring new concepts and terms will arise. A term that I have only recently embraced is “conversational currency.” It is a term – and a concept – that I believe will become more widely understood and advanced by those of us seeking to compete in this brave new world of connectedness. Simply put, conversational currency is the value proposition created through the on-line exchange of relevant information via social networks. It is the propagation of knowledge through conversations that generate a currency exchange. In the relationship economy, understanding the art and science of this new commodity is fundamental for all who seek to thrive personally and professionally.