I read a nice article in The Economist last week, it was entitled “The Magic of Diasporas”. And since I was in London going to and “Australian Business UK” function, It made me feel even more connected to my fellow Aussies. Diasporas are described by Wikipedia as “the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland”
Anyway the article mainly focussed on the Chinese and Indian diaspora. There are 22M Indian’s living outside India and more Chinese living and working outside of China (est. 83M) than there are people in France! Closer to home, it estimated that around 5% of Australian’s live O/S at anyone time. Diasporas are a major force in the world when you consider the fact that China isn’t so much a country with borders, but a billion people spread over the world!
The article indicated that the value of diasporas came down to three things:
1. They accelerate communication of ideas and opportunities between different locations.
2. They foster trust, as you would naturally prefer to do business with a countryman overseas.
3. They foster collaboration, as disaporas capitalise on opportunities between regions.
Although the article was fascinating, it wasn’t immediately useful to me, until I started thinking about what I termed mini-diasporas. More than once I have been a member of a large group of people that have each eventually gone their separate ways, spreading out through different regions and industries. I finished high school with around 180 others, graduated from University in a class of around 40, graduated from Officer School with a group of 14, and have been a member of variety of different small businesses with staff from 3 to 180. So how to take advantage of this?
The answer of course is Linkedin. I would recommend to anyone joining Linkedin to connect with their fellow employees. Although initially this wouldn’t seem to be of much use, my experience through managing a mailing list of a couple of thousand people is that 33% of people changed employers every two years. Therefore by connecting with the people you currently work with, you are hooking into a network that will be wide flung within a few years. And by activating this network through regular updates on what you are up to, you gain mindshare with the people in it as you each find your own way.