I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of connecting vs. networking over the last few days and have posted a few entries to that effect. On reflection, my most recent post sounds almost anti-social media. It’s really not. It’s about understanding the dynamics of your social network, figuring out how to map it to social media in the most effective way, and relating everything back to first principles.

ANALOGY

Everyone has close family and extended family. Close family isn’t necessarily your parents and siblings. I interpret close family to be family members and friends with whom you have a close personal relationship; the cousins that you get together with on a regular basis and the uncle you call three times a week to discuss the latest baseball trade. Extended family is the people you only see at weddings and funerals and you always seem to pick up where you left off as though no time passed since the last major family event. And even though you related to each other in an instant, you talk about getting together and staying in touch and you never do. Your close family are your connections; your extended family is your network.

Like family, your network collects in different places. In fact, you can end up with multiple fractured, yet overlapping, family pods.

OBSERVATIONS

The problem is that there is a finite amount of “you” to go around. If your network is large, being aware of its goings-on and responding to its many and varied requests can result in spreading yourself too thin, or potentially upsetting someone with a delayed response. Given the wrong mix of circumstances, the entire enterprise could collapse: a social supernova.

It’s not about a lack of wanting to connect with people — or a disingenuous suggestion to do so — it’s about being realistic about the role that your network plays for you, and the role that you want to play in your network. It’s about associating with the right network, establishing (and establishing yourself in) the right community, and taking care of your genuine connections. It’s about understanding that your connections can drift outward and inward at various times and always knowing how to manage the dynamics.

ASSUMPTIONS

  • A majority of networking, community building, and connecting occurs online.
  • Powerful social-media tools materialize and vanish on a near daily-basis.
  • No one tool manages everything that you want it to.
  • Elements of your “macro” network appear in multiple gathering places, not in one single location.

PROBLEM

How can we achieve a panacea of social-media? Do the tools exist to easily and logically synthesize each one of your networks into a single unit?

It’s 1:10am… expect more thoughts from me on this in the coming weeks. In the meantime, what are your thoughts?