Okay, it took me until today to figure out that . . .
I’m clueless about Social Networking. I have these communities, and belong to these networks . . . and folks I don’t know keep asking me to link to them, be their contact, become their friend.
I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes.
Maybe it was the name that confused me. Social Networking hits me as outright redundant. Any way I look at it, or consider my experience, networking is social. Was there a possibility that we were talking about cables and machines? In the 3-D world, we call it networking, despite possible obvious ambiguities. So you might think that Social Networking would be even more social than networking. Well, you might not, but I did.
Maybe I should add some context here. Here’s where I was.
Not long ago, the son of a client asked me how networking online was different from networking in person. My answer was something like this:
In person, networking can be informal or formal. You meet people through friends and colleagues. Relationships form over time. Or you can end up at a “Meet and Greet,” sharing small talk with strangers standing around a table eating cheese. . . . One nice thing about being online is that folks drop by your blog, if they like you they stay. Relationships form over time. If they don’t they, click on, and no one is harmed or hurt by that. It’s efficient. The small talk is gone.
What was I thinking? When someone I don’t know from my Social Network sends me a message, saying “Hi! What are you doing?” that’s email small talk. Isn’t it?
Like I said, I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes.
I’ve never been good small talk with strangers. I know it’s a way of making contact. But I’m painfully shy and self-conscious about “first conversations.” I don’t have a clue how to find the right conversational note. I’m either too chatty, too brainy, or spouting my latest philosophical discovery too early.
Networking is a “one at time, get to know someone relationship” activity in my world.
Relationship − that’s the operative word for me.
That might be why I find Social Networking sites confusing.
Sorry, I stopped writing for a minute to accept two invitations to two different network communities from two blogging friends I already know. It would be rude not to. Right? They are my friends after all.
At every Social Networking Site, I’ve ended up with a “network” that came to be despite — not because — of me, and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do iwth or for or about each of them.
Darren Rowse wrote about a similar experience. He joined a Social Networking Site and came back later to find he had a whole community.
I’m not really sure what to ‘do’ with my community. I’ve added the MyBlogLog widget to my sidebar (scroll down a bit) – but I’m unsure what else to do.
I know I see a lot of My Blog Log widgets around – but I’m wondering if anyone has any wisdom to share on what they do with their ‘community’.
Is this just an ego thing? A bit of fun? Or is there some point to it all? Forgive me – I’m just wondering a little about what the point is.
After you tell Darren, would you tell me too . . . please?
Are Social Networking sites just to establish contacts? That would explain why they count my friends, track the degrees of their closeness, and mark the size of my network. It would justify why they publish who and how many those there are at every moment. It would also account for the people I don’t know who want to connect to me.
In Social Networking, do the folks with the most contacts at the end win something really big and really cool?
I have these communities, and belong to these networks . . . and folks I don’t know keep asking me to link to them or be their contact.
I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes, but I’m thinking that Social Networking sites look a lot like the “Meet and Greets” of the Internet.
Excuse me, can we meet at the table with the cheese and would you fill me in?
Liz Strauss writes about relationship blogging and other stuff she “gets” at Successful-Blog.