Network by Rubbing Elbows (Literally)

December 8th, 2011 by Jamie Porter

Thanks to an innovative airline, the CEO you’ve always wanted to meet may be just on the other side of the armrest.

According to the Huffington Post, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced a future service allowing passengers to attach social media profiles to their seat assignment. Using “Social Seating”, fellow travelers will be able to search LinkedIn and Facebook profiles for a perfect seatmate at online check-in. 

Social media is now a standard way for people to connect, but rarely has it led to almost instantaneous face-to-face rendezvous, (outside of location-based services such as “FourSquare,” of course). If “Social Seating” sparks a trend it could make dating, job-hunting and forming business partnerships a little easier.

 And what could this mean for PR? Sit next to a top marketing exec and your impromptu pitch lasts coast to coast. Sit next to a news editor and land your client a feature by the time you land. 

 Well, it’s probably not that simple. But, “Social Seating” may at least help establish long-term business relationships. A busy editor could forget which Twitter follower pitched him as soon as the story goes to press, but might correspond regularly with the guy he chatted up on his 2-hour trip home. (Or there’s always the flip-side where he might purposely avoid sitting next to a PR person to avoid a pitch!)

 How many people actually welcome in-flight conversation? Some look forward to the few hours of connectivity-free peace. It will be interesting to see if fear of getting stuck next to a chatterbox hinders the optional “Social Seating” use.

 If the airplane isn’t the correct venue, perhaps more traditional hang-out spots will use social media in similar ways. (That is, if social media privacy isn’t a concern.)  

 What do you think? Would you try “Social Seating?”

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