Friday, May 02, 2008

Is it Social or Is It Business?

by Karen D. Swim

Welcome to another edition of Fierce Friday! Here at Words For Hire, Fierce Friday is a day that we spotlight and gain inspiration from fierce women (and sometimes men) and discuss issues that impact women in business. Today, hot off the blogosphere is a new study that determined that when it comes to social networks, women like to socialize but men are all business.
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Perhaps it is the Election season that has everyone thinking along gender lines, but lately there seems to be no shortage of mars versus venus debates. Are women more social or do men simply socialize differently? Deborah Micek wrote a thought provoking article in which she asserts that women have an advantage over men in the Web 2.0 and new media markteplace.

Women are good at bonding. Forming connections with other women seems to come quite easily for most. You can sit next to a perfect stranger and in a 15 minute conversation learn all about their family, job and where they got their hair done! We are good at socializing darn it and we should not make apologies for this gift!

How do we use this natural gift in business? The new media marketplace is all about engaging others and creating genuine connections. The old web was all about information, but we suffered information overload. The new web demands authenticity and genuine connection...if you want to win. Women like Rosa Say understand how to merge genuine connections with business promotions. Ross refers to the process as "tooting sweetly." Tooting sweetly stands in stark contrast to blowing your own horn. We toot sweetly by engaging and sharing value rather than using tools such as Twitter to blast our URLs.

Deb and Rosa show us that we are not only capable of shining in this new marketplace but we can excel in it. So go out this Friday and leverage your gift to toot your own horn, but do toot it sweetly!

What do you think about the gender differences in social media? What has been your experience? Are you socializing or doing business when using social network tools?


Ellen Wilson said...

You know what I think of when I hear "tooting sweetly?" Ha!!

I am just not that kind of sweety tooter; have always been loud.

Gender differences usually irritate me. You should be able to be who you want, but alas, I think this is the final frontier when it comes to domination and control. People say that women have come so far from what? There is this glass ceiling there...

Oh, I could go on and on, so I probably should stop now Karen. You hit one of my sore spots!

Words For Hire said...

@Ellen, LOL! This actually is a small component of one of my bigger pet peeves. Our society loves these dumb labels, gen x, boomer, male, female and then we try to fit people into those labels without allowing for any individuality. What happened to embracing the diversity of the whole human experience? I am a girl and make no apologies for it. I love Jimmy Choo heels, lip gloss, hair appointments, basketball and can watch Worlds Strongest Man for 8 hours straight. Does this make me or less female? Sadly, it is 2008 and gender and racial inequities continue to live on and yea that bugs me.

The toot sweetly actually applies to men and women,and to me speaks to engaging rather than talking at people. A good example are those who use twitter to only promote their links, their brand and never engage in conversation. Tooting sweetly recognizes that it's fine to promote but you should also give and listen.

Rosa Say said...

Fierce Friday Karen? That can be an interesting weaving to Aloha Friday! You share some pretty fascinating links here.

Like Ellen, initially I tend to get a bit irritated with talk of gender differences, but over time I’ve learned to get past that impulse pretty quickly (learning now as an old lady ?:) When you dig into them (and put the boxing gloves away), gender differences can be the start of some interesting conversations —‘interesting’ in that we do show a more open-minded interest in each other and get some curiosities better satisfied along the way! As a coach, I will say that gender stuff will help me ask better questions so that I am cautious about not making any assumptions. And Karen, I love your attitude —I make no apologies for loving being a girl too!

Tooting sweetly is indeed a gender free suggestion I promote heartily, and I think Aaron, the subject of my post you pointed to, would emphatically agree! I love the connection you have made here Karen with “engaging rather than talking at people” and concur with your Twittering examples. The more we give and listen, the more ‘promotion’ segues to tooting sweetly and relationship building.

Words For Hire said...

@Rosa, I am thrilled that you stopped in to comment and offer insight from your coaching experiences. You raise a good point about getting past our initial irritation and being more open. I love looking at things from different angles, and perspectives and want to know the "why" behind responses, feelings, actions. Discussing thees issues definitely leads to greater understanding and positive changes. I have also become a fan of "tooting sweetly," and look forward to learning even more from you. I love Aloha Fridays, there are interesting possibilities for us dear Rosa. ;-)

Anonymous said...

What an interesting discussion you've got going on here, Karen. You've really got me thinking!

I love being a woman. I love being unapologetically feminine. Me and my kitten heels are not parted easily! I think there are great strengths in being a woman just as there are in being a man, and I also think that when we combine forces and work together we make a formidable team.
As for one gender being more adept at new online forms of social networking, I'm not sure. I know some men who are fantastic on Twitter, just as I know some women who are not and vice versa. I think some people 'get' it, and some don't. I like to think I'm one of the ones who does 'get' it (but then don't we all!?), and so the best I can do is to reach out, engage and connect as the complex individual that I am, that we all are: the sums of all our many parts.
Great post, Karen! I just love Fierce Fridays :-)

Words For Hire said...

@Amy, I definitely think you get it! I agree with you that there are women who stumble with the social aspect of social media. I have made great friends on Twitter both male and female. I have chatted with both about everything from chocolate to artistic vision. Your quest to live audaciously really embraces this concept of celebrating the unique in all of us. I think those who get it, get it holistically. I'm so glad you enjoy Fierce Fridays. I look forward to writing posts and even when I have had a tough week, I perk up for Friday. Thanks for sharing the joy with me!


Brad Shorr said...

Hi, my point of view, maybe different because I'm a guy, you tell me ... I engage in social media because I'm looking for a business result (though I'm not always sure what). I enjoy the personal, social aspects of conversation, but probably wouldn't continue very long if nothing was happening businesswise. Speaking of the personal side, we missed you, Karen, and Rosa, and Amy, at SOBCon yesterday. We talked a lot about Hawaii for some reason.

Words For Hire said...

Hi Brad and thanks for stopping in and commenting! It is nice to have a male opinion as we all want to learn and grow. I think you raise a good point. You use social media with a purpose and if the tool does not fulfill that purpose you move on. I don't see this as being unsociable but believe you're making choices about how you spend your time.

I missed you and Joanna too! I'm still recovering from my disappointment but hoping there will be many other opportunities to connect. :-)


Ellen Wilson said...

Just came back to check on all the great discussion. I learned a lot today.

Karen, you are so right about dumb labels. It puts us all in a box and we are supposed to gaze at one another through the optical illusion of society. At least I can do my small part in discrediting it all. Thanks for your wonderful post.

I hope you have a good weekend.

Geoff said...

Hi Karen,

I believe that you are right in mentioning that women have a knack for socializing more than men, at least at initiating socialization.

I see that changing, however, with regard to social media in general. As a father of a teenage girl and teenage boy, they both fight over being online in the social media space. In fact, my son actually has more profiles in more places.

Being in online marketing myself, he is always asking me about new/different social sites to check out. In fact, ha may have been the first teen on Mixx.

I think this is a good thing, though. If it weren't for these opportunities, I'm not sure he would have the same level of comfort initiating conversations in real life...much less toot sweetly ;)

Great post.

Words For Hire said...

@ Ellen, I will join you in your label smashing efforts. :-) As we all unite in showing the world that we cannot be labeled or put in a box we challenge people to begin to look beyond what they think they know and get to know us as human beings. *hands hammer* Let's get to work! :-)

@Geoff, the younger generation definitely presents an entirely different discussion. They seem to be writing an entirely new set of rules. I wonder how their experiences will influence communication styles in the future. How has social media impacted the way your children communicate offline? Do you think their sophistication with virtual tools will change the way they will approach workplace communications when the time comes?

I'm so grateful for the comments and discussion from everyone. Life is busy and so I appreciate all of you taking time to pop in and contribute. Thank you!


sikantis said...

I don't like it when people are judged by gender or whatever without giving respect to the uniqueness of all of us. I wish that esteem is the basic of our society.

Words For Hire said...

@Sikantis, I think where we get into trouble is when we make initial judgments but never move past those to the unique qualities. To some degree we have to make distinctions. For example, drug companies should study the impact of drugs on women and men as our bodies react differently. However, as you pointed out it is important to see past the broad categories and labels to get to know the beauty of each person. Thanks for your comments! I hope you'll drop by again.


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