Way back in the day, when LinkedIn was pretty new and social media was beginning to emerge, I intuitively “saw” the power of digitally-fueled networks (as many of us did).
But, I must confess that, on my part, a lot of this was (initially) logic-driven. Maybe a little calculated and opportunistic. The power was in the math, or so it seemed.
I saw network, and connection, and influence, but I didn’t really know the people. In that sense, the temperature hadn’t been turned up yet.
This weekend Chris Brogan (in his excellent e-newsletter – are you subscribed yet?) used the term “warm networks” and it flooded my mind with imagery. So much of social media emphasizes connection numbers, and reach & frequency – but I think many of us have concluded that it’s all about the temperature.
A warm network, where there is human connection, caring, and pay-it-forward activity, trumps a vast but chilly network any day of the week.
Great content is okay, but it’s so much more enriched by nurturing the community who gathers around it. If you support that community, you earn the opportunity for a marketplace. The story alone won’t cut it. Community alone gets boring too quickly. Selling without a relationship isn’t a marketplace; it’s old timey advertising and works just as badly as it always has. We need all three elements: great content, the tools and desire to nurture a community who loves that content, and the potential for a community-focused marketplace.
In the early days, I concentrated on building connections. Soon, however, I was meeting people. Developing real flesh-and-blood relationships. And now, it’s about creating and sharing a warm place for people to connect. I “get” the whole reach and frequency thing, but really – won’t we far more effectively reach people by warmth rather than by width?
Just this morning, I’ve had warm on-line interactions with Shonali Burke. Jenny Schmitt. Joe Cascio. Sally Church. And others. Why? Because these are warm-network people, and we’ve sat by the fire (literally or virtually) over time and shared life.
Do you want a fresh case study? Just read about Mark Schafer’s description of how he was “courted” by Dell to attend one of their events – take a look at the role of personal connection in this interesting account.
Yes, it can be cold out there. But we have the privilege of using digital tools to open our hearts, and hearths, to others.
Go warm or go…well, just go warm!