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This chapter is from the book

The Sharing Culture Grows and Grows

Over the last few years, sharing and self-reporting have become a way of life for hundreds of millions of people. We use social media and social networks to give opinions, to seek advice, to report on our experience. A few scant years ago, it would have seemed strange to take a picture of your food at a restaurant. But wow, how the times have changed.

For example, I was at Legal Sea Foods in Boston one night and my server delivered my order of bourbon lobster to the table. When she put it down, she said, “Nice, huh? Take a picture!” So, I did. I shared it on Google+ and within 10 minutes, I had seventy comments about lobster.

This is a relatively new thing, this sharing of daily moments. Some of it is frivolous and silly, and yet, it’s in those moments that serendipity takes over and business value can happen. I’ll tell you another story that explains that.

I once sent a tweet that said the following: “If I think the Cadillac CTS is sexy, does that make me an old man?” I got about 200 replies over the span of 30 minutes. (For the record, about 198 people said it didn’t make me an old man.) What I didn’t expect, however, was that someone from GM would see the tweet, would see the replies, would take an interest, and then would invite me to GM headquarters to meet with the guy responsible for the Cadillac CTS.

This meeting would’ve been cool if it stopped there, but it didn’t. I ended up getting to meet Fritz Henderson, then chairman of General Motors. Think about that: I’m a blogger and small business owner. I’m not the kind of guy the chairman of a huge auto manufacturer gives 30 minutes of his day to, for nothing more than a chat about how social media is reshaping things. The benefits of that meeting and other interactions continue to resonate to this day.

The culture of sharing is a strange one, and it’s not immediately apparent how this translates to business, but I can tell you that it does. It happens all the time, and almost always from serendipitous interactions.

When I talk about social media, I like to say this: “Social media is like a multifaceted phone, mixed with an awkward television, mixed with a publishing and media company.” What I mean is that you can use it to communicate, to consume interesting content, and to share information with a larger potential audience than what is traditionally available to the average business person. This culture of sharing is what makes using Google+ both challenging and ultimately rewarding.

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