Tuesday, April 17, 2007/
I’m experiencing a bit of virtual jet lag. We’re exhibiting at the International Technology Expo this week in Second Life. Office hours start at 2am!
Being there, wherever, whenever
I’m experiencing a bit of virtual jet lag. We’re exhibiting at the International Technology Expo this week, which occurs not in the real-world, but in Second Life, and starts on Friday at 9am SLT (Second Life Time), which is 2am on Saturday, Melbourne time, so I’ve practically been time-shifting my entire life in preparation.
In Second Life, more than any other web-based technology, it’s important to be aware of people’s comfort zones, their habits, when they are “in world” and when they are not. Unlike email, blogs, and other websites, there is no “stretch” to people interaction. You are always communicating with people in real time. They are always “there”, right in front of you. Just as in real life, you need to know where your virtual associates hang out, where they like to have meetings, how they feel about talking in public and private places, and whether they prefer talking business during leisure activities, or are more formal. Anyone for golf?
For those who don’t “get it”, this is the primary difference between Second Life and the rest of the internet. When you go to a website, there is nobody “there”. With websites, you wonder if anybody reads the “contact us” message you sent, whether they’ll get back to you, and whether they even maintain their site any more. In Second Life, there is no doubt about people’s interest and attention to your discussion. What a huge difference that makes. You stop wasting time with people that aren’t interested, and focus on those who care enough to take the time to show up.
Living virtually has a price. Last night my mobile rang at 2am. It was a cheery US business associate who had a question. After some practice, I’ve learned to not even hint that I was sound asleep 10 seconds before the phone rang. You see, I have a US inbound number that rings directly on my “cell phone”. I went to my computer, had a great discussion, and they never realised what time it was here.
Setting up “local” numbers so people can reach you with less bother is just part of the picture. It’s important to have a complete toolkit of methods to make yourself easily accessible. In the virtual world, the quickest business relationships happen when there are the fewest obstacles. Being there, being available, and being responsive often put you at the top of people’s lists.
Immediacy means taking real-world communication values and finally employing them with people at great distances. Being at the International Technology Expo this week may not be quite as good as getting on a plane and spending a week at a trade show, but it’s much closer than you’d expect. Just have plenty of coffee on hand.
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