Social Media and The Numbers Game
You’d be hard pushed to find someone these days who isn’t on some sort of social network. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram…the list goes on. People use them for all sorts of different reasons but more and more often the connections made on these networks can lead to work or real life connections that matter. What’s funny is that even as adults, these things can become a popularity contest. Are we forgetting the real life rule that it’s not how many people you know, it’s who you know?
I got thinking about this last week because of LinkedIn. It took me a long time to cave join LinkedIn. I was constantly hearing mixed reviews of it. Some found it effective, some not at all. When I made the move to become a freelancer last year, I decided perhaps it’d be good to have a presence on there, as it might lead to more work. With my profile done and some connections added, I waited. Thus far, LinkedIn has done nothing for me. Then last week a flurry of people requested to add me on there, most of whom I don’t know.
I found it odd. That’s great that people want to add me, but if there’s no real substance in that connection, then what’s the point? Are you going to offer me work? No? Then basically, you’re just adding me to up your numbers and make it look like you’re ‘connected’. A wise man once told me he doesn’t trust people with tons of LinkedIn connections, because it’s unlikely those people are connected at all. You can’t possibly know that many people on that level. He’d much rather engage with someone who connects with people on a real level. That guy is a business man I know who happens to be a millionaire, so he knows a thing or two about successful networking. I’m riding with his advice.
I remember when I first got on Myspace and thought, ugh, it looks like I don’t have any friends. Truthfully, I don’t have that many! Why do I feel the need to impress complete strangers by making them believe I’m connected up to a zillion people? I get the same thing on Facebook, when people I don’t know try to add me – what is this? I don’t want to be part of your popularity contest!
See, it’s not how many connections you have, it’s who those connections are. Better to have one good one than 500 nobodies. Social media has got us all trippin’, thinking numbers it’s all about the numbers. But unless you’re connecting with those people on a real level, none of it matters.
Sure, I have a lot of Twitter followers, but I do a lot of public speaking where I get to meet a lot of those followers. There are a core group of people I met on Twitter who have gone on to become my real life friends, and you know what? When it comes to work, it’s those people, the ones who’ve met me in real life, who’ve connected with me, sat and broken bread with me – they’re the ones who recommend me to people, just as I’d recommend them over someone I’ve only exchanged a couple of tweets with.
I’m not dismissing social media at all. I’ve made wonderful connections on there and the majority of my daily interaction takes place online, but don’t let it allow us to become lazy where it really counts. Real connections do matter, especially in business, so you can’t be scared to take it offline and build those networks.