What Are Your Networks Accomplishing?

Following up on my post yesterday about networks (which in part serves to fill in my “who is” page), I was reflecting a bit today on what I want to accomplish with my life and how online networks fit into that. I had a good, brief conversation with a close friend and spiritual mentor, and thought about the goals I set for myself earlier this month.

The biggest thing that hit me today is the short life of technology. Truthfully, I got thinking about that last night, when I saw someone refer to a Twitter hashtag as “the financial room.” I saw that as a clear, if possible unconscious, reference to the old AOL chat rooms. I’ve increasingly seen signs that folks are using Twitter like AOL, and we know how much that company changed the world as we know it for the better. Yes, I kid.

My friend gently pointed out that any efforts to rise to the top of an online network are somewhat futile, because the technology is changing so fast that what we master now might not even be around in a few years. He also paraphrased the old Tip O’Neill line to point out that my most meaningful activities – in general – are going to be the local ones. He recommended using the things I’m learning and talents I’m developing through networking to help the people right in front of me.

I want to help and influence people, and I want to learn from them. Being popular on Twitter, LinkedIn, GovLoop, Facebook et al may not be the best way to accomplish those goals. I’ve got to remember that.

How about you? What do you want to accomplish, and where are your online social networks fitting into that picture?

8 thoughts on “What Are Your Networks Accomplishing?

  1. Good to see some self-reflexive insights which allow the possibility that “Being popular on Twitter, LinkedIn, GovLoop, Facebook et al may not be the best way to accomplish those [help and influence] goals.”

    Sometimes I wonder if simply getting on the phone to reconnect with my network or becoming a better conference “mingler” would do more good.

    On the other hand, the “both-and” perspective probably beats the “either-or” attitude.

    Good post, Adriel.

    bob

  2. I think it depends on your location and circumstances. You live in a population-dense area; you’re employed. I live out in the middle of nowhere and am self-employed. For me, social networks are the only opportunity not just to learn how to network, but to bounce ideas off people, to find and create new opportunities, and like you, to help and influence people.

    To be sure, I have real-life friends who come first. But I never would’ve met the closest ones without those social networks (with one exception, but even he I met over the Internet). I can indeed foresee a time when I back off the Internet and focus more on my own “local.” But for now, networks play a crucial role in my professional life.

  3. @christammiller – As @bashley noted, this post is a bit self reflexive. And I also agree with his “both-and” perspective.
    You might be surprised how hard it is to connect with like-minds in an urban environment as well! We all live in little silos, it seems, and Web 2.0 is very good way of breaking us out.
    I’ve actually got a lot of value from my networks, and I’m glad you have, too. As your Cops 2.0 networks cross mine, I can see all the good work you are doing. Keep it up, and thanks for your participation here!

  4. I feel like I get a lot out of the social networks I belong too. But I think right now it’s the social aspect that means the most to me. I wrote a blog post about it a couple weeks back called, Why I Tweet

    As a WAHM, I don’t get as much adult interaction as I’d like. I miss the days of being in an office where I always had adults to chat with, I get that with my networks. And the people and things I’ve been exposed to on those networks have helped give me clearer idea of what I want to do with my life as a career, as a mom and as a person.

  5. Bob and I posted at the same time, so I didn’t see his response till after I was done! 🙂

    I was mainly thinking of the times I go into the city – I have so much more opportunity to meet people, have the opportunity to interact, even if it is just at the corner store. I too am a WAHM, and it’s hard to believe I’m making a positive difference in the world when my boys are on the floor beating each other up! 😉

    I will say that when I first started freelancing, exclusive online interaction felt like a vacuum. Phone calls were only for interviews, and I was getting no feedback. I learned to get used to it, but now that I have a couple of friends who do prefer the phone, I find I too wish I could talk to more people that way. I’ve got to believe it will all balance out at some point…

  6. More to the “both-and” angle, I think social media connections can enhance in-person or phone networks. Both-and means you’re connected in multiplex ways which can intermingle, adding complexity, interest, and textured layers to your relationships. In person, for example, a couple of people might rehearse or elaborate on their recent social media exchanges.

    I notice that people who participate in podcamps or other sorts of meetings like that are usually very enthusiastic, quite exited about each other. The idea of “helping others” which is explicit in social media, almost by mantra, is transportable and can migrate into in-person trust-building, implicitly. The air of civility and goodwill online would seem to innoculate in-person meetings to some extent. I would describe my own, rather small twitter network, as a “civil society”.

    bob

    In any case, I’ll venture that positive synergies can happen when different social media (physical and virtual) co-mingle.

  7. I think about this too as I am committed to live experiences but I have recently shifted to an ideal of an expANDing universe. these great connections and meaningful exchanges online appear to be giving me greater focus in my real life somehow i feel more able in the real world. I am a change agent by nature not by choice. I wonder if it’s a bit like sexuality. There is no choice you either are progressive or you’re not. Meeting others online and sharing is giving me courage in other parts of my world.

  8. I think about this too as I am committed to live experiences but I have recently shifted to an ideal of an expANDing universe. these great connections and meaningful exchanges online appear to be giving me greater focus in my real life somehow i feel more able in the real world. I am a change agent by nature not by choice. I wonder if it’s a bit like sexuality. There is no choice you either are progressive or you’re not. Meeting others online and sharing is giving me courage in other parts of my world.

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