Double Edged Sword

Isn’t it funny when your personal life and work life intersect in places you would never expect? My wife and I recently made the decision to "cut the cord" and get rid of cable. Because of this decision, I’ve been spending a lot of time binge watching shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. One show I’ve gotten really into lately is called Mr. Robot on USA. If you haven’t watched the show, I highly recommend it. The entire first season is on Amazon Prime.

Mr. Robot is a show about a cyber security engineer and hacker named Elliot Alderson with social anxiety disorder and clinical depression who is recruited into a shady hacker group to take down a huge multi-national corporation. Not something that has a whole ton to do with material handling, right? Well in the first few episodes, Elliot is shown doing background research into every person he comes in contact with. Not only does he look at their social media presence, he does a complete background check on them, up to and including hacking their email accounts.

Flash forward to July 28, and I’m sitting in the 2016 Emerging Leaders Conference listening to Sam Richter discussing almost the exact same thing! Now, obviously Sam wasn’t advocating that we hack our potential client’s email accounts, but the idea that there is a treasure trove of information just sitting online begging to be found is not the work of fantasy on USA Network. It’s a reality in business today. And it’s both wonderful and scary.

By now, it’s almost trite to talk about how the Internet has changed our entire world, but it is absolutely true. Take Joe Harper and Southwest Materials Handling, for instance. In the upcoming issue of the magazine, Joe talks about how relationship-building has changed in today’s connected world.

"There aren’t personal relationships today like there used to be," says Harper. "I’m not saying relationships don’t exist today, but we have to work very hard to make that a reality some days. And that’s a shame because it makes your job more enjoyable if you are comfortable with the relationships that you have with your manufacturers and with your partners. It has changed dramatically and I suspect it’s going to continue to change."

Not all of that can be attributed to the Internet but a lot of it can. Whereas in the past, you had to really take time to get to know a company, now 90-percent of the information a customer wants to know is a click away.

One of the quotes that I jotted down at the Emerging Leaders Conference said something like, "The best thing about the Internet is that you have the entire world available at your fingertips. The worst thing about the Internet is that you have the entire world available at your fingertips."

That really hit home with me. My generation is the first generation to really have social media for all of our adult lives. Facebook came out when I was in high school and Twitter came out when I was a freshman in college. And not that I’m posting anything super inappropriate or offensive on either platform but I will admit to breaking into a bit of a cold sweat as I listened to Sam talk about how easily accessible those posts are. Every tweet ever sent is cataloged in the library of Congress. That means every stupid, inane or even frustrated thought I ever thought to put out into the world is saved for future generations to see. And when you think about it like that, it’s hard not to want to get off the grid and live in a cabin in the woods somewhere.

I’m really excited about this issue of the magazine because it really is a microcosm of the Internet in one place. On the one hand you have all of the wonderful advantages that a connected world offers. See how you can use the Internet to gain "Sales Intelligence" by reading an article from Sam Richter.. Brian Bluff discusses, in depth, the importance of mobile marketing. And on the flip side, read Mary Lou Jay’s article about cyber security.

The Internet is a wonderful place and, ultimately, the most important sales tool in your arsenal in 2016. Having a social media presence and a strong, interactive and mobile-friendly website isn’t optional anymore. The first thing any potential customer does is Google your name and company, and if you have a strong web presence that is an advantage for you. Just remember, that the first thing any potential customer does is Google your name and company. Be careful about what you put online because you never know who is looking at it. 

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