In a technological age of instant, easy and cheap communication speaking to one another has never been easier. Why, just in a few hours I am scheduled to be in a skype conference call that links Hong Kong, Boston and Durban! So although it has never been easier to connect, knowing who to connect with becomes the challenge. The ability to network has to be matched by an ability to trust those with whom you are connecting. Trust matters.
This is especially so when it comes to using easy online means of connecting to explore potential business opportunity. I read of a case recently where an American telecoms entrepreneur by the name of Andres Ruzo was looking to expand his business into Latin America. He was connected to one Vladimir Vargas, another IT entrepreneur based in Costa Rica, who was looking to expand his business northwards. The connection was made by a mutually respected priest that both IT men knew…and trusted. This formed the cornerstone to a successful business enterprise (ITS Infocom) than is currently on the brink of going global. Technology made the connection possible but trust was the essential ingredient in making the connection successful.
In the early days of the ‘virtual world’ people would engage and explore this new ‘reality’ through assuming an online alias. You could become anything you wanted as you connected and build your virtual life – one detached from the ‘real you’. However, over time as mainline life activities started to happen online – banking for example, real people began to increasingly put real information ‘out there’ and a metamorphic transition in online authenticity occurred. Facebook being the epitome of this shift in real people putting real information online to enable personal connection. Central to this new level of connecting is trust.
Trust is the very currency of all relationships and rather than hesitate in the face of opportunity presented by new ways of connecting, the real challenge is how best to develop trust in these new channels through which we connect. So whilst the means through which we connect has changed and will continue to change, the need for trust does not. And it just might be that ‘who we know’ and how we then use our network will become the main portal for trust to flow in a world of limitless connectivity.