Networking in the Sharing Economy
Connecting In The Sharing Economy
Being a good customer has always been appreciated, but these days, it’s becoming almost essential to doing business.
The rapid evolution of the sharing economy is highlighting this like never before. This industry is moving away from the standard business model of service providers doing everything to attract and keep customers, and is instead operating on a system that relies on equality and mutual trust.
It’s a system that showcases the best (and sometimes, unfortunately, the worst) aspects of human behaviour. In essence, it’s an industry that facilitates human connections in ways that weren’t readily possible before.
Opening Up Business
Almost anyone can do business in the sharing economy. Uber and Airbnb, two of the biggest players in the space, respectively let people make money by driving customers in their own vehicle or by renting out their apartment when they’re away for the weekend.
Since this system is based on the notion of people sharing space or possessions, it opens both the customer and service provider up to vulnerabilities. The industry therefore uses rating systems for both customers and service providers, which can affect their future business.
With the sharing economy, we’ve given measurable merit to being a good customer. Uber drivers won’t pick up people who have bad reviews. Airbnb renters won’t consider applicants who’ve earned negative feedback. The same goes for service providers who have low ratings. Instead of just being an occasional benefit, being a responsible, nice person is an essential part of doing business in this industry.
The sharing economy evens the playing field: business owners have always had to be good to customers, but it’s now equally important for customers to be courteous to owners.
The Customer Isn’t Always Right
Traditionally, everything in business is geared towards customer satisfaction. But since the sharing economy works on trust that goes both ways, the burden of responsibility is mutual. This new way of doing business relies on personal connections more than ever before.
The sharing economy is, in effect, all about relationships. Sometimes, the personal experiences that the industry offers even trump its business side.
Connections Before Business
Normally, we do business and make connections as a result, but in the sharing economy, it’s often the opposite. Many people participate in the industry in order to connect with people. Airbnb and other home or room rental services illustrate this clearly: many people rent rooms because it’s a great way to meet new, interesting people. The business aspect is secondary.
Couchsurfing, an organization that aims to “make travel anywhere in the world a truly social experience,” takes this idea even further. The network earns the homeowner no money at all: people sign up and offer their living room to someone for the sole purpose of forging a new friendship.
The sharing economy is not only a different way of doing business, it’s a new way of valuing personal connections. Despite the vulnerability of such sharing, there is an overarching trust between people that allows the system to function. It’s an industry that has found a way to use our persona as a kind of currency.
How else does the sharing economy change the way people do business? Please share your ideas in the comments below!