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Social and Professional Networking Are All About Participation, Not Association

There is a lot of discussion these days about the social networking aspect of the web, from Facebook to LinkedIn.  Bloggers post posts and have blog rolls.  People join bulletin boards and forums, and post comments on other people’s websites.  Much has been said about the Web 2.0 phenomena but there is one point that is often overlooked.  Online social and professional networking tools are all about participation, not association.  You can have a thousand Facebook friends or read dozens of blogs daily.  None of that counts as social media.  The word “social” requires both a give and a take.  Social needs back and forth.

If you really want to engage in online networking, stop worrying whose blog rolls you are on or how many connections you have made.  Instead, ask yourself this question.  Am I part of the discussion, actively engaged in collaboration?  Unless you’re sharing, commenting, uploading, ranking, voting, forwarding, challenging, agreeing, instigating, posting, downloading, editing, marking-up, hyperlinking, joining, …well, you’re not really part of the Web 2.0 experience. 

Many bloggers and social/professional networkers make one big mistake.  They look at the number of connections and believe that somehow the number that goes in the box is a measure of value and importance.  Being connected to someone in LinkedIn is hardly the same that a certain person is “really connected to me.” Relationships require discourse, an exchange of ideas and emotion.  If you do not contribute and share with these web tools, you will end up feeling dissatisfied with whatever result you are seeking.  You will know you have achieved a level of success, when you cannot only count someone as a connection line item in your favorite social or professional networking tool, but whether or not you could comfortably call them on the phone knowing they would be excited to receive your call, that takes more than friend request. 

Comments

Matthew Austin

Excellant post. The person who finds value in having many connections on LinkedIn or Facebook is the same person who goes to networking events and stands against the wall or hangs out by the bar. I am active on LinkedIn, but also have a professional Facebook site just because everything I read says I need one. I've been contemplating taking it down since the majority of people that I'm "connected to" are a handful of high school friends. I don't see the value in Facebook, but then again, I don't invest the time in it, either.

Kris Kringle, PLLC

The value I see in Facebook is what I call the "I know a guy" factor. Sure you are connected to your old high school or college friends, but if they or someone within their social network need legal help within your practice area your name, image, and, of course, your contact information is readily available. It is easy for a friend to say, "I know a guy that does trademark registration. Let me send him a message on Facebook."

Laurie/Halo Secretarial

I was thinking about this idea this morning when I saw a post on a VA forum about how to best update multiple networking sites at once. I told the poster that the best choice was to not simply broadcast but instead to get involved in the conversation. Pick one or two networks to focus on, because you'll get actual value that way.

GAL

Exactly Laurie. We must learn to pick and choose which tools we will allocate time to and what kind of web site interaction offers the most ROI. Otherwise, you can spend all day going spinning your wheels. Thanks for the comment.

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