The Larger Network
I’ve been thinking about the value of networks, specifically the ones I have on LinkedIn. Actually, I have two networks there. One is part of the other.
There’s the larger network of about 1500 people with whom I am linked, And the much smaller network of people I actually have a two way relationship with.
In essence, this it what it boils down to for anyone in any social media environment. It’s kind of a twist on my 80/20 Rule of Almost Everything.
So what about the 80%?
This is something I have yet to figure out. Every day I get three or four link requests from people. I generally don’t make requests myself, except for the odd time when I find someone that I feel compelled to link with.
So I ask myself why these people link with me, but then don’t make any attempt to engage with me. They don’t seem to post anything. They don’t seem to comment on anything. They don’t seem to be anywhere to be found.
But I know they’re there…somewhere. It’s kinda spooky. But basically it’s just a big question mark.
The Smaller Network
But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the 20%, or whatever your smaller percentage might be.
These are the people with whom you interact. The people who post interesting or provocative articles. The people who make it clear that they are seeking engagement. The people who will comment on your posts. Forward your posts. Be active in some of the same groups as you. All that good old social media stuff.
In short, these are your peeps. And there aren’t many of them. But then maybe there aren’t supposed to be.
The peeps in my network are mainly writers first or good writers if they are not writers first. This is pretty much how we came together.
You could argue that just about everybody who is active on LinkedIn is a writer. But that would not be true. Paul Croubalian has calculated that way less than 1% of all active members of LinkedIn are contributing writers.
I’m not sure what the rest are, and except for a relative few, I’m not sure I care.
Because they are not my peeps. They may be somebody else’s but they’re not mine.
The Real Value Of My Small Network
OK, so this is going to be a little different for everyone, but for me, it’s being able to feel the passion these people have for their work and their lives and the willingness they display to participate, engage and even help each other.
This expresses itself in a number of ways, some of which I have already mentioned. But it also expresses itself in the development of genuine one to one associations.
Take Phil Friedman and myself. Phil, like me, is a professional writer. He writes for the boating industry. He also project manages the building of boats. He knows a hell of a lot about boats.
But he is way more than that. He is someone who values his network, and over the past couple of years I have become one of his peeps and he one of mine.
One day Phil suggested that we write something together, based on the hard core reality that we are both Alpha types and have strong opinions about things.
I didn’t even think about it and neither did Phil after he suggested it. We just started writing it. I designed a corny looking masthead for it. And we decided that we would alternate in coming up with a topic to discuss. That person would create the premise and it would flow from there. That person would also publish first and the other person would publish the same column, more or less, two days later.
Well, Phil will, probably today, publish the 11th issue of this column called “He Said He Said”. Bang zoom. Just like that. An association from my small network of peeps turns into an idea that has been, for the most part, very well received with a high degree of engagement.
This is the value of the small network. Granted it’s an extreme form of support, because not everybody has the capability to pull something like this off. But Phil and I do, so we do.
Another thing I came up with, actually inspired by several other people who were doing sort of the same thing, is a weekly column where I list, in no particular order, the posts I read that week that I really thought were worth sharing.
It started as a weekly Top 6, then become a Top 7 and this week it has been reduced to a Top 5, because I am very busy with marketing work at the moment.
This has also been very well received and the people I feature are getting a little more well deserved exposure than they would otherwise. And right now, as we all know, here in the Lumpy Kingdom, every little bit helps.
Why Do I Do This Stuff?
Well first of all, because I am a writer, I can do it. I have the horses, so to speak.
I do these things because I really value my smaller network, and they, with their support, value me.
I also do these things because, every week, I bring a few more people from the larger passive sector of my network into the smaller active sector.
Is It Worth It?
Sure it is. Anything you do for your network is worth the effort.
I try to make my posts useful in one way or another. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I just bitch and complain. But then that’s just the way it goes isn’t it?
But mainly I do all this because it’s a responsibility I have here. If my network is to stay strong and hopefully grow, then I have to help it along. And these are the best ideas so far.
In a way it’s a responsibility we all have to each other. And everybody keeps up that responsibility in different ways. There’s no such thing as a small contribution, because every contribution adds to the value of the network in some way or other.
That’s how it works. Well at least for me. And I would hazard a guess that it works that way for you too.
So I would like to thank all the people in my smaller network. They know who they are because they are the ones who have read this far and will probably have something to say about this piece.
So thanks kiddies. You may be my small network, but I love you all big time.
I am a professional communicator and active observer of the human condition.
I work with primarily B to B clients, large and small to create hard working communications in whatever sector of the marketing universe their strategy dictates the need to travel through. I am also a mentor, blog post editor and a pretty decent photographer.
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