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.