The power of networks

social networking
via Flickr/Sean MacEntee

I’m an active user of all kinds of social media, as you can tell from some of the links on this blog. But, there are plenty of things that I don’t like about social media – or rather, that I dislike in how people use it.

For example, one of my pet peeves on LinkedIn is receiving an invitation to connect from someone I’ve never met who doesn’t include anything personal in that invitation.

Who are you?
Why do you want to connect with me?
Why is it interesting for me to connect with you?

These are some of the questions that immediately pop up when I see yet another one of these emails popping up in my inbox.

Ususally, I ignore. (So, if you are reading this and I don’t know you, but you once sent me an impersonal LinkedIn invitation: now you know why I didn’t accept) Sometimes, I’m in a good mood. And I think, ‘Sure, I’ll reply. Why not?’

When I do, I accept an invitiation, but also reply with a message to the sender to find out more about this person and the things we might have in common. I like knowing my network – that doesn’t have to mean we go way back, but I want to have some idea of who you are. Of course, this appraoch doesn’t always work. And those people, after time, are deleted from my contact list again. But sometimes, the results go way beyond anything I had expected.

One of these invitations a year ago ultimately led to a small project to help his company set up a location in Tokyo – and, incidentally, was my first project as an entrepreneur. And this week I finally replied to another one of these invitations which had been sitting in my inbox for a while staring at me indecisively. It’s now a few days later, I’m also in touch with one of his contacts and together we’re talking about a possible collaboration to work on in September. It may not happen, of course, but just the idea that this is a possibility leaves me amazed at the power of (online) networks.

It’s also a good reminder to just do this more often: connect and talk to people. It’s the only way to make social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter (and probably all the others) work in the way you would like them to. Anyway, I guess this article (in Dutch) pretty much sums that up as well.

And probably, it’s the only way anything in the world works.

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