Can You Connect?
A culture gap is forming. Social media business is on one side. Traditional business is on the other.
Our business plans depend on offline folks to be our clients. we’ve let the social media culture become something of an echo chamber. We risk losing sight of folks who spend no time working on the Internet.
Ironically the gap itself is something that folks on both sides can relate to and understand. Cultural gaps are part of the human experience. Here are three examples that Google recognizes as important.
- Bridging the Gap on the (Nonprofit) Board from Social Edge.org —
This discussion group takes on the question of helping private sector businesspeople understand the differences in the way non-profits are governed.
What worked for me in board meetings was to be educated about the topic in the context of non-profit governance. This was always done in a respectful manner, routinely included in addition to describing the topic, issue and relevant questions for the board’s consideration. By contrast, in my experience on for-profit boards, context is frequently set simply by recalling for board members the history of the issue, its current status, and decisions to be wrestled, because board members all share business experience and vocabulary.
- The Culture Gap From Law.com —
This article discusses the investment some companies make in cross-cultural training before they go global.
[Gary P.] Kaplan, from Howard Rice, said large law firms should consider such investments so that American lawyers don’t learn through mistakes.
“You’re kind of an ambassador of your country every time you go abroad to do work,” he said.
“We’re considered ignorant, so to try to break that as a stereotype, I think that type of training would be highly appropriate,” he added.
- Language Is The Door To A Culture from Susie Litts.blogspot.com —
This article answers the question, How does the cultural gap hurt the Hispanic family? A mother tells the story of her daughter’s “becoming too Americanized.”
I explained the impact that occurs when a linguistic gap is developed, as children become, that is fluent in English and parents do not. In a similar fashion, a cultural gap may develop as the child develops the ability to navigate [the] culture while their parents remain separated from it. The cultural gap widens when children acquire a [different] education than their parents may have gotten.
It is nearly impossible to learn a culture if you do not understand the language.
Social media attracts literate, intelligent, curious people — people who like to explore ideas. Seems we use that what other folks have learned to close our own cultural gap.
- Be sensitive to context.
That’s what the Non-profit article is saying. What we see as obvious and readily applicable to the concrete world requires more context and explanation. The private sector business people who sit on non-profit boards felt respected when they were offered the appropriate context, stories, and vocabulary to participate fully and with confidence.
How to do that.
1. Dress to connect. People hear what you’re saying if you look like a credible source.
2. Explain the culture in terms of time. Three years in social media is a long time. In the concrete world it’s still entry level.
3. Outline values of the culture that can serve the audience you’re with. If your network is one that influences the business they’re in say so. Construct your contextual overview to match the person you’re speaking with.
4. Demonstrate the values of social media — make it easy, make it about them, listen actively before you talk.
- Give them a concrete reason to listen.
Make them smart by making it about them. Start with what they know — Use examples from their world not this one: Cross-cultural training in the concrete world for corporate, diplomatic, and relationships in business already have established credibility. Companies that aren’t yet global understand the impact of an insensitive business on a local community.
How to do that.
1. Draw correlations between social sites and current roles in the company. Websites often reflect the role of advertising / marketing. Blogs can be related to trade shows and customer outreach.
2. Discuss cross-cultural and diversity training. Draw from this prior knowledge to explain how to enter the social media space with grace while establishing a successful and powerful presence.
3. Consider the goals of the client and how they overlap with those of your network and your reach of influence. Use examples of people you know who might be willing to help the client make an easy transition.
- Identify vocabulary that you need to explain.
Words, like conversation and community, can mean something different in the concrete world of business. Words like Twitter, Plurk, and FriendFeed, can sound silly or worse, make people feel uncomfortable saying them.
How to do that.
1. Introduce new words in context. Bring up a Twitter screen where your friends are talking. Interact act with them. Invite the folks on Twitter to answer a question that the client has about social media or the Twitter application.
2. If a company is uncertain, use words they find familiar — networking for social sites and for conversation, colleagues for friends and followers, online resume for profile.
3. Listen to what they’re not saying. Watch their body language and respond to confused looks. Pace the information to their interest levels.
The art of closing a cultural gap is inherently in tune with the values of social media — connecting people with people.
How do you use the values of social media to connect with offline clients?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!