Friday, May 23, 2008

Web 2.0 (Two Point Oh)

I've been saying to Bill at Cool Works that I feel a blog post coming on so here it is. In college, I would consider myself a procrastinator, "one who gets paid for crastinating" according to the B.C. cartoonist, Johnny Hart. I always got my papers in on time, but I would tend to write them the night before they were due, and usually stay up all night to do it. Mind you, I did well in school and I attribute this to my procrastinating, well, at least a little bit. Once I knew my topic, I would mull it over as they say, write a few notes as brain-childs occurred, but generally would tie it all together at the last minute. I don't necessarily recommend this method to anyone, but it always worked for me.

The topic on my brain these days is Web 2.0. I would like to state for the record that when I was an HR professional working in a HR department, I did not have time to really ponder such things. There was always some fire to put out, a file to copy, a benefits orientation to give and a million other little requests and tasks that filled my days. However, I really wish that I would've known then what I know now. Isn't that the way it often is?

First, here is a definition of Web 2.0 for you HR folks still in the trenches from Wikipedia.

Web 2.0 is a term describing the trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies.

Since joining Cool Works a year ago March, I have officially immersed myself in Web 2.0. I blog. I am on lots of social networks including ours, My CoolWorks, My Space, Facebook, LinkedIn, and I also participate in two wikis. And last but not least, I am now on Twitter and find it an amusing way to share whatever I'm thinking or doing at any given moment.

Now, here is a question for you. Do you use these tools? First off, do you consider them tools? I can understand and appreciate those who opine that social networks are a time suck and a major waste of time, but there are also others who have actually increased their audience and traffic, by utilizing them. Personally, I lean more toward tool than time suck, but I do try to be aware of how much time I spend on this stuff. I'm sure my husband would say way too much, but I have been making connections with old friends, others in my industry and am gaining a greater audience for Cool Works, my photography and my favorite social causes.

So why should you pay attention to Web 2.0? Well, for one, this is where the world is going. People are spending more time on-line and the younger ones out there, your future workforce, are very active on social networks and make decisions about where they will work, eat, hang out, go to school, travel, etc., by paying attention to their many friends' experiences, both good and bad, with companies, etc.

Earlier this week, I attended a brainstorming session for Washington Business Week, a local non-profit that puts on business camps for approximately 2500 high school students each summer. I was one of those lucky students back in 1989 at Central Washington University. When asked whether or not Washington Business Week should attempt to contact its alumni and maintain a relationship with them, the predominant response from the attendees of this meeting was that they would be "insane" not to. And, in fact, if they wanted to be around in 20 years for more high school students, their very sustainability depended on connecting with their alumni. Maintaining a relationship with their natural constituency was the best thing that they could do to ensure their survival and growth.

So how can you join this new web chapter?

  • Create a profile on Facebook or MySpace or LinkedIn.
  • Add a group for your company or a business profile or both.
  • Reach out to your staff and alumni and get them to join and participate. Tap your fans!
  • If you're really bold, create your own personalized social network using Ning.
  • Twitter about your hiring process, job fairs, recruiting trips.
  • Share upcoming events, listen to your staff, and engage in the conversation.

There really are a million ways to connect with people and move forward with the Internet and I am certainly not an expert in any of them, but I am learning more about them and myself all of the time. In future posts, I'll be more specific with things that you can do to get started, but for now, I just want to get the point across that Web 2.0 is important, it's revolutionizing how the world works and if you want your company to be around in the future, get involved sooner rather than later.