The Power of Being Social

Alan BelniakGeneral, Social MediaLeave a Comment

(light on content, heavy on sentiment…)

I recently attended a reception for the graduating MBA students at Babson College.  I am graduating this Saturday (May 16, 2009) with my MBA from Babson.  As a full-time worker (and full-time husband and dad and part-time student!), I can only  selectively attend  events, and mostly in the evenings.  This one was at the President’s house, and it was close to school and work, so I figured it would be a good event to attend.

The most amazing part of this event was that I knew only about ten percent of the people there (about 125 people attended, in my estimation).  As a bit of background (and essential to the thesis of this post), Babson offers a few different MBA programs:

  • A one-year MBA for executives who waive out of a lot of classes and essentially get a compressed MBA in one calendar year;
  • A two-year MBA for a more concentrated, full-time MBA experience;
  • A fast-track MBA, which is similar to the two-year program, but it’s a blend of on- and off-campus learning; and
  • An evening program, for full-time workers who earn their MBA at night and weekends.

The reason I bring this up is that in just these past two semesters, I got the opportunity to interact with some two-year students in some of my classes.  It is a completely different culture!  The camaraderie is deeper and more pronounced than in the evening students.  My suspicion is that they move through the program in denser packs, and therefore get to know a lot more about each other earlier on.  Aside from this (you might be thinking, ‘how does this at all relate to the theme of this blog?), I got to re-experience the power of being social.  The number of times I overheard “LinkedIn” and “connect” and “network” and so on, made me proud to be part of that event.  Even better was the power to truly be social and listen in on and partake in the conversations where it ended up that being connected to someone really helped.

  • someone looking for a business plan  review;
  • someone moving to a new city, post-graduation, and looking for a place to eat or new friends to meet;
  • someone looking for advice in a new business space…

You get the idea.  Since we were all there, it was great to get that instant feedback.  And since  a lot of us knew one or two people in the “other” programs, in the span of a few hours, I made new friends in the otherwise vertical silos of MBA students at Babson.

So, this was “networking 1.0” – but that’s the best kind of networking there is. It’s the Web 2.0 tools that allow us to replicate 1.0 networking in a 2.0 world.

The only take-away I offer here is that it’s great to talk face-to-face when you can.  Being a Web 2.0/social media/social networking junkie might make one think that I prefer to hide behind a keyboard.  The reality is that a keyboard and an Internet connection permit me to reach a broader audience.  After that, it’s all about being social.