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Friday, 11 April 2014

3 Social Selling tips from the Vikings - Trade, Raid and Invade

* “Those that go down to the sea in ships, do business in great waters..” 

Business development is not the sole province of sales and marketing folk. Historians are also minded to re-think and even re-write their history.

The current “Vikings” exhibition at the British Museum, London has gathered some amazing artifacts that show us there are still further things to learn from the Vikings. The ‘old skool’ Viking mission statement that I grew up with was the classic three

Sack, Rape and Pillage.

But the Vikings were more than their stereotypical portrayal as eleventh century asset strippers and slave masters.

For those of us with an interest in commerce and human behaviour (Social selling) there are some fascinating exhibits on how Vikings went about their business and managed their export drives.

Outside the British Museum for the Vikings exhibition 


We can also see parallels of business of today’s digital business development which is following a similar path to how Viking business developed.

Perhaps the Vikings’ mission statement is better understood as:-

Traders, Raiders and Invaders

“They journeyed boldly.
went far for gold out in the east,
and died in the south in Saracenland”
                                              Gripsholm runestone AD 1000-1100


The Viking exports included timber, furs, amber, jet  and lignite. From the North Atlantic they used whalebone, walrus ivory .The hides of seals and walruses were made into ropes .

For these exports they traded with the east for silks, rock crystal,  beads and precious stones.


Vikings -life and Legend at British Museum 2014

At first the Vikings used simple barter where goods of the same value were exchanged. 


 Today the Internet provides barter platforms which the Vikings could only dream of !







Barter Internet sites such www.swapz.co.uk  Swap site offering many goods and services.
www.swapcycle.co.uk and www.swapitshop.com Goods for exchange, ranging from cars to ukuleles.
www.whatsmineisyours.com  Clothing and accessories.
www.swishing.org  explains you how to arrange a clothes swap party with friends.
www.readitswapit.co.uk Book-swapping site.
www.u-exchange.com Houses all over the world available for holiday exchanges.
www.letslinkuk.net Community networks which link people who want to swap their skills and goods.
www.staffshare.co.uk allows businesses  to swap staff members' time with specialists in other firms.

For eleventh century Vikings beads, furs and dried fish were used as currency of ‘ commodity money’ because they held their value and came in quantities that were easy to measure.

Before 800 CE the Vikings had no coinage of their own .The first imported coins as metal valued for its weight and purity.

  There is a fascinating display showing portable scales to weigh things and also a mould for making silver ingots .The  eastern dirham  and western coinage were absorbed into their trading. They later developed their own silver and gold coinage.



inside the covered courtyard of the British Museum.
Love the way the shadows from the ceiling make a pattern on the walls.


Perhaps we can see a parallels here in  social selling where conventional money  has now seen the internet’s own ‘coinage’ such as bitcoins.


In the commercial exhibitions’ arena there were the Great Halls  of Viking communities . They would gather in such a place which could be  some 80 metres in length. These were spaces for public shows of wealth, gift giving and entertainment - a forerunner perhaps of the courts in  17th century Aragon which previous posts on this blog have  examined.
Through wonderful oral tradition of the Viking sagas later written down  ,the exhibition quotes from Havarmal written in  1270 CE on etiquette in the Vikings’ business.

“A man shouldn’t clutch at his cup but moderately drink his mead; he should be sparing in his speech or shut up; no man will blame you for bad behaviour if you go early to bed”


Regrettable photos on today’s Facebook come to mind. Quite possibly  the Viking selfies would  have be even more extreme than Neknominate snaps.

The Havarmal  offers pretty sound advice on the conduct that Professional Salespeople should employ at corporate hospitality events and business entertaining activities today .

So fellow modern day Vikings -I wish you Good Selling to you in your  equivalent to ‘trading, raiding and invading’ inspired by  our courageous Viking forebears. 

 Good fortune whether you go down to the sea in ships, on land , in the air or the virtual space of the Internet to do your  business.

*Psalm 107: 23

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