Wherever you fall on the convergence continuum–struggling to learn new products, experimenting with new partnerships, or making career decisions to become full-service or stay product-niched–convergence is pushing you towards interdependence.
What new tools or skills do you need to thrive in a convergent, interdependent world? In addition to products, systems, and state-of-the-art providers, you also need what we call “social currency” and a “learning lens.”
“Social currency” is the intangible value earned from the exchange of positive human interactions. It is not charisma or the power of your personality. It is, rather, earned influence.
In your everyday work, social currency is an imperceptible, yet powerful tool, akin to business accounting for goodwill, and more dynamic than your relationship bank account. It moves you beyond a transactional “quid pro quo” relationship.
Better yet, it is a skill you can learn. (See Chart 1)
A recent Time magazine cover story about Enron, noted that “we now know that we cant trust stock analysts and financial planners.” That brief statement sums up why social currency can be so important.
In recent months, consumer trust has been badly shaken. This has happened at the very time convergence has begun impacting the financial services arena, requiring producers to sell, cross-sell, up-sell, and otherwise deal with increasingly complex products and sales scenarios.
To be effective in such an environment, producers need social currency as well as all the business tools to which they have been accustomed. This skill helps establish trust in relationships–a trust that helps move others to take action, try new things, and explore possibilities.
In short, building social currency propels you beyond surviving and into thriving in a complex convergent world.
This skill entails working interdependently with others, some of whom may be from different market sectors and cultures. Consider: If you work convergently, you need to cooperate (to get and keep clients) and compete (for resources, and for prospects) simultaneously. Some competitors may even be within your own company.
That may be a much different environment than that to which you may have been accustomed. After all, many of us, in our earlier years, found the way to survival was only to compete (for resources, customers, budgets, and rewards). It was about winning.
In today’s complex business environment that old “I win, you lose” attitude will backfire. Today, no one individual can be successful without productive relationships throughout the system, too.