Social Beings in a Digital World

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The Good Old Days

I have been told a few times, “That isn’t how we did it in my day,” and even an ex would said, “That isn’t how my mom did it.”  Those definitely have potential for being fighting words, if you let them or they could be opportunities for learning.  I, for one, enjoy receiving a lesson every now and then, as well as teaching one.  I have never been shy or at a loss for words – I don’t intend to start now.  When I failed to live up to “the mom” standard, I actually learned how to make a better potato salad.  In another case of sharing how I go about sourcing a candidate or finding opportunity for a connection, I was asked, “And just when do you pick up the phone?”

The Phone

Of course, I use a phone.  I just use a lot of filtering methods before I pick up a handset or put on a headset.  Just like you, I value my time.  I also like to talk and when I use the phone, I am ready to converse for a while. My interest while on the phone is genuine.  I care about with whom I am speaking; I care that they know I care.  This is good old-fashioned engagement.  It may not be the way new business was sought or discovered, but it is the way new business is closed.

Buying Today

How many business transactions do you make where you never speak to a person, at all, ever?  Over the last few years, I have made several customized purchases over the internet or via mobile; I never saw to a person or spoke to anyone during the course of those purchases.  Every single order was fine when they arrived, proving there are some transactions that can be done over the internet, computer-to-computer, with order fulfillment still managed by a human.  (BTW – Have you checked out the Zappos App? – Seriously, a GREAT buying experience!)


I would never submit a candidate or suggest a business partnership without a conversation or a face-to-face- never.  Nor would I ever hire anyone, sight unseen.  We must remember that even though many conventions of communication in 2011 allow for us to receive information in short, fractured blips, a handshake and a smile still go a long way in sealing a relationship, partnership, deal, or hire.  “It’s only another tool.”  To be sure, these words are true, but often the tool becomes the gateway or portal through which many of our transactions must squeeze and I get tired of all the smallness.

The Value of Voice-to-Voice and Face-to-Face

A nice long conversation over a leisurely cup of coffee or a generous call with a colleague or client, after hours, when our kids have been sent off to bed goes a long way to feeling like a human in an automated world.  Some days, it seems like I only have value because I remember my three PINs and twelve passwords on a daily basis.  Don’t forget that we are social beings in a digital world, and I am not a digital girl.  Don’t let all this social everything keep you from being a social anything.


*Looking forward to next week, when I will meet many of my digital friends in a real space:  SHRM 13 in Chicago, IL.


by Rayanne Thorn



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