Posts Tagged ‘Social Networking’

by Reni Gorman

I agree with Paula Jayne, social networking should not be about adding people to your network willy nilly to get the highest number of connections. All too often I get a LinkedIn request from someone whose name just doesn’t ring a bell. There I sit, agonizing over who this could be and wondering why I don’t remember them. Then I write back and say: “I am sorry, can you remind me how we know each other?” Sometimes I get no reply, other times I get a reply that says: “We don’t know each other directly but we both worked for ABC Company.” It all depends on where you draw the line.

However, I do believe there are other reasons to connect even when you don’t know the person previously. In fact, isn’t that what social media is about? Making new connections you didn’t have before? I don’t look at it as just a tool to put my address book online, I look at it also as a tool to find new contacts, for various reasons. The benefit of the social web is that I can see into my friend’s contact list and connect with people who I would not have connected with otherwise. For example, I interview people for PDG’s Strategy Consulting team and often after the interview, they send me a LinkedIn request—and I accept. Especially if I spoke to them, I liked them, and I feel we had a connection. I have sometimes received requests to connect with people who have read my blog, sent me theirs, are in the same industry and want to be connected—and I accept. And despite all the examples I just gave you, I still don’t consider myself an Open Networker, who, according to Wikipedia, is a member of a business-oriented social networking site such as LinkedIn who positively encourages connections from any other member, whether or not they have had a previous business relationship.

Paula Jayne also talks about the need to contact everyone in her contact list once a month.. I don’t think having people in your network means you have to contact them once a month or at any other interval. I know people with whom I only speak once a year and there is nothing wrong with that in my eyes. Based on the examples above, I have contacts I may never reconnect with—and I am okay with that too. I might even eventually remove them—once I no longer remember them. The goal of my network is not necessarily to have “relationships” with every single person, it is to have connections that can help me and who I can help when needed. Isn’t that the goal of networking to begin with? Social media allows me to do something I could not do before and that is to see my connections’ connections’ connections and so on. It is, therefore, about connections—therein lies the power.


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by Paula Jayne White, Ph.D.

Social networking has become the modern arcade game for some– a relentless pursuit to earn the high score by adding the largest number of contacts.  Bemused, I watch friends pounce on new contacts: friends of friends they barely know; local celebrities; acquaintances with whom they spoke just once.  And I laugh when they tweet, “Just added my 2000th contact!” or “Joe Smith is my 1500th friend on Facebook!” 

I think too of the day when, clad in sleep pants and a Penn State sweatshirt overdue for the laundry, I armed myself for serious networking.  Hours later, I emerged glassy-eyed, having sent 25 invitations to connect.  The funny part is that, like my contact-collecting friends, I really hadn’t networked at all.  Instead, we found ourselves caught in the trap of mistaking contact collection with actual networking.

For sellers, it’s easy to fall into this same trap.  Accustomed to numbers and quotas, we see social networking as an expedient and highly-effective means to broaden our contacts without having to put in the long hours that face-to-face networking requires.  Because time is money, more contacts in fewer hours should be a good thing.  But it isn’t exactly.

Here’s the issue: When used in the way that I described here, social networking is missing the conversation and mutual information sharing that turn contacts into relationships.  In other words, it isn’t social!  People you “know” only by virtue of what they have posted on their social network pages are unlikely to go to bat for you—or you for them—simply because you don’t actually know each other at all.  That’s why, no matter how efficiently modern technology helps us to gather contacts, we still need to do the hard work of meeting people, talking to them, getting to know them one-on-one, if our networking efforts are to succeed.

For this reason, collecting random contacts is counterproductive as well.  At current count, with 479 people in my combined social networks (with some overlaps) I need to spend over 70 hours per month just to have 10 minutes of interaction with each contact.   Multiply this number by a factor of 5 or 10, and you can see why having a massive contact network is tantamount to having no network at all.  There just isn’t time to build relationships with that many people. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I love social networking.  Used judiciously, it helps us meet and organize our contacts.  It provides a springboard for keeping up with people and for reaching out to them personally about things that matter to them.  And it’s fun, too!  But numbers in the database don’t mean real contacts, and invitations to connect are no substitute for real conversations.   We still need to get out there and talk to each other.  Which I swear I’ll do just as soon as I send out a few more contact invites

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by Reni Gorman

Wikipedia describes Twitter as “a free social networking and micro-blogging service” that allows users to send “updates” (or “tweets”; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service (e.g. on a cell phone), instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific or Facebook.” Twitter asks the following question: “What are you doing?” People can sign up and “follow” each other to submit and read these short updates in just a few seconds. In a work setting, such as that of a training consulting firm, I may find out that someone is “designing a new curriculum for advanced pharmaceutical representatives.”  I may read such an update from a colleague I would not normally reach out to. However, upon reading such an update I may contact this person to learn more because I may be doing something similar. This could open up an opportunity to brainstorm, learn and share. Maybe my colleague has a great research paper or framework they are using as part of their engagement that I could learn and benefit from. Maybe the person who shares a research paper is an industry guru or expert in another organization. Maybe they share knowledge with me indirectly: meaning they update their status message with something interesting like: “5 key qualities of leaders.” Perhaps they run searches to see who is talking about a topic of interest such as “astd” (American Society for Training and Development) and reply to my update because I “tagged” it “ASTD.” Maybe they respond directly to a question I post: “How do people find each other through Twitter?” There are many possibilities but these are some examples of how useful, helpful interactions can happen with Twitter. “Imagine a world where everyone was constantly learning, a world where what you wondered was more interesting than what you knew, and curiosity counted for more than certain knowledge.” (Locke, Levine et al. 2000)

How does Twitter as an informal learning tool apply to people in organizations? When knowledge workers are “stuck” in the task at hand, they seek advice and guidance from many places, one of them being colleagues and experts around them. In turn, their access to information and knowledge is only as good as their sources, generally only within their organization. What if knowledge workers could easily build networks of experts across organizations? What if they could access gurus in their field? What if they could create their own community of expert peers and gurus who they can reach out to for brainstorming or answering questions?


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