Your company’s social location: what is it —why does it matter?

If you took Sociology 101, you will remember that social location is a collection of an individual’s characteristics that place him or her in a particular group within society. The defining characteristics include gender, race, social class, age, religion, education and geographic location, among others.

Ideally, there is no judgment attached to social location. Unfortunately, this is not always true in present-day American society. Your social location may well be the difference between success and failure in your life and career.

Social location is a key to understanding what an individual brings to a relationship, whether it is work, leisure pursuits or personal. But the concept can be applied to your company, as well. What does your company bring to customer and supplier relationships? Do you help customers and other partners to understand your social location characteristics, or do they just have to guess?

Social location indicators for a company can include history, culture, values, service – both to customers and to the industry — business philosophy and trustworthiness. It’s all those things that a company brings to every business relationship.

We use social location every day

An individual can make a mark and be noticed positively in society by cultivating and emphasizing elements of his or her social location that are meaningful to peers. Politicians do this all the time, letting us know where they stand so we can judge their ability to fulfill the obligations of the job. Individuals do this in job interviews and, increasingly, on social media.

Tabloids make their money detailing the social location elements of celebrities and sports idols. This all changes when one of these icons breaks the code of his or her particular social location. Think Tiger Woods or Harvey Weinstein.

The same social downfall can happen to companies that betray their social location. Enron comes to mind.

Your company’s social location is important to your brand strategy. If you don’t have a good handle on your culture, values, philosophy, and so forth, how can you communicate your value to your supply-chain partners? It’s important to let them know exactly what you bring to the relationship table. Your social location counts! Capture it in writing and spread the word.

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