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Distance no object

22 July 2010 No Comment

I’ve just finished a webinar with a guy in Australia. An hour of screen demo and chat through my desktop. Nothing new there you might think but there was an interesting generational moment this morning at breakfast.

We were all discussing what we were doing today and (for once) the kids were quite animated as it’s the first day of the summer holidays – there was surfing for one and a friends for the day for the other. My turn came and I mentioned that I had to be in the office on time as I was having a webinar with an Australian. And the reaction? Well, normal blind acceptance from the kids and a “wow” moment from my wife to whom this was abnormal, unusual and surprising.

For children now this is not unusual – after all they are quite blas├® about hearing conversations with astronauts on the space shuttle or participating in a web chat with a single-handed sailor in middle of the South Atlantic. However, for my generation it can still come as a surprise that we can chat quite happily through a screen mike and see what someone else is doing thousands of miles away live.

And how business has changed. No longer are we competing just with the businesses we see in our home towns. Our strategy has to cope with what is being offered to our customers from say bookkeeping services based in India, investment houses in the US or Taiwanese manufacturers. The internet has made all this relatively easy for all but the most IT phobic to deal with. To a certain extent we take it all for granted.

We take it for granted that we can get a review of something we have never held in our hands from someone who has; read a report of a hotel visited by someone we’ve never met or ask for advice from a forum we don’t participate in ourselves. It has become second nature for many of us, but we also need to check what is being said or checked or mentioned about our own business.

So do you run automated Google searches on mentions of your business, links to your website, blog, Twitter or Facebook pages? Do you do the same for your competitors and peers? Have you yet recognised that competition comes from the rest of the world, not just the rest of your town, city or country? Have you used Google Analytics to see where interest in your online presence is emanating from or checked LinkedIn to see who else is being checked out when they look at your profile.

All these things are easy to do and produce a wealth of information about how your business may be perceived in the wider world – and if you don’t do it you can be sure that there is generation out there to whom this a natural way of working.

It’s a massive world out there, and distance is no longer an object.

Jon Stacey

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