Friday, December 26, 2008

Attention shoppers

It wasn't the last minute Christmas shopping that reminded me of the old Kmart blue light special, it was a blog post by Frank Kenny on his proposal for a social networking class. Frank is president/CEO of the North Mason County Chamber of Commerce and a big believer in social networking/web 2.0 in business, particularly for the small business sector. I've been following Frank on Twitter and that's where he asked for a little feedback on his proposed class. His idea is to introduce his membership to Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging.

I really like what he is proposing because I agree that social networking offers a lot of value to small business owners if they become familiar with the tools and learn to adapt them to their needs. I kinda went over board and ended up adding a post-length comment (see here and scroll down to the comments). Instead of reprinting my comments here I'll let you switch over to his site. I'll wait -- "someone left the cake out in the rain and we'll never get that recipe .. "-- oh, you're back.

Given that Frank and others like him are pushing the information revolution into small businesses everywhere, perhaps we need to consider a few things in our education environment:
  • if web 2.0 is on the radar of small businesses in Belfair then it had better on the radar of your business courses. Integrating web 2.0 into your business classes is at least as valuable as teaching it in stand alone technology classes, and probably more valuable.
  • don't shy away from teaching web 2.0 in the classes because younger students "grew up with the technology". As I have discussed before, a student's ability to use the tools in a personal setting is irrelevant. When they start working they will be judged on their ability to accomplish something with them in a business context (increase revenue, cut costs, build brand recognition).
  • in a small business and in a slowing economy, the creative application of technology to improve business can come from many places within the organization. Most small businesses aren't going to be looking for a director of internet marketing after completing Frank's class, but they will be more open to the use of the tools when an employee suggests it (perhaps one of your students). The person who recommends Twitter for announcing the blue light special on bananas probably won't be the store owner and maybe not even the produce manager. It's more likely to be stock boy (girl) and it's going to look great on their resume.
So what do you think? Does your HR program have students thinking about YouTube as a training vehicle? Do your purchasing classes include LinkedIn as a resource for vendor references?

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