Welcome to 2010, can it really be ten years since the Millennium and that party? One of the biggest advancements in business communication over the past ten years has been the use of the Internet and, specifically the rise of social networking. Led by non-business sites this is now pervading the business world and is set to enhance the way firms do business. In the UK the social networking craze began with Friends Reunited and those spectacular examples of people leaving their families for (often) brief flings with their childhood sweethearts.

This has moved on to the more interactive Facebook, of which every parent of a teenage daughter knows she cannot be prised away from at mealtimes, or at any other time of day come to that. Facebook is mainly a social tool (and the bane of the HR manager’s life) but is increasingly becoming used in a business context, especially for corporates communicating to young End Users. More business-oriented sites such as LinkedIn and Ecademy are now widely used for business networking. And I’m not even going to mention Twitter apart from to say is it here to stay? When text messaging was introduced the pundits said it would never catch on but according to industry sources the number of text messages sent per day in the UK is now 216 million so watch this space. Tweet here. The rise of the business blog has also been spectacular and has even made some bloggers expert industry commentators, including appearances on national news programmes.

Going into 2010 all firms need to have a social media policy, to cover aspects such as controlling employees’ use of Facebook etc, and more significantly to maximise the business opportunities that it presents in terms of communicating instant messages to customers and peers. One of the successes of eBay is the peer review system and this powerful endorsement capability is similarly available from Facebooking.

But we must not run the risk of using the electronic media only, nothing can replace the significance of face-to-face contact. Business networking is going from strength to strength and people who previously have not done it are turning to this cost-effective way of making contacts and winning business. It can be fun too, especially if there’s a glass of wine or two involved!

Looking on a leading social networking blog I found the following statement which I thought about claiming for my own, but soon thought against it. “Social media in 2010 will cease being the shiny new object and instead, become part of the everyday lexicon of business. The technology will begin to fade into the background so that people can focus on the relationships that are created because of the technologies, not the technologies themselves.” Happy New Year. Happy networking and social networking!

Chaz

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