Fall is such a magical time of year; the start of school for children, falling leaves and crisp evenings in New England, project kickoffs and many new beginnings personal and professional. In the US, we struggled through a time of huge economic uncertainly this summer – it was a period of great hardship for many people and businesses. But, in so many ways all this uncertainty has brought people closer as a community – supporting, information sharing, collaborating in ways never before seen prior to social media. We have been able to use the digital tools before us to create change and opportunity faster and more efficiently than ever before. From the rise of digital information channels on Twitter, the impact of citizen journalism through blogging and commenting, to true co-opetition and collaboration happening in online communities around the globe.
Because times are tough – we are focusing so much on social media as the rainmaking and marketing panacea, but it offers so much more. Due to the strategic use of social media, are often better positioned to service their clients and customers directly and have a better understanding of their needs. This helps eliminate waste and ill-informed projects – creating higher success rates and reducing costs. People are better networked personally and professionally to leverage the wisdom of peer experts to make better decisions faster. Charities and not-for-profit organizations are better positioned to leverage best practice across the globe and deliver needed services more efficiently and connect volunteers virtually. We are no longer passive recipients of the news and information that was chosen for us in traditional print media, but now have the best of both worlds and can now tune in and also participate in the identification of what is newsworthy. So as we roll into the season of new beginnings, it is a fitting time to think creatively about how connecting and collaborating can serve us all better. Perhaps as we face new challenges it would be fruitful to thoughtfully examine new possibilities for relationship building and focus more on opportunities that are at our fingertips – if only we take the time to think “out of the box.”