Being connected is as ubiquitous as air these days. We’re connected to the internet, connected to the things we like, and connected to the people we know. And, in the greater scheme, connected to the social graph, where one’s individual slice is an interconnected web of nodes as places, people, and things. Jeff Riddle in one of our previous blog posts sees this as rings of importance, where the inner ring is more important than the one encircling it.
We’ve been groomed to associate the size of one’s circle with the grandeur of their status, where your social web rests in the number of connections you have — it’s what drives social influence. Who do you know? How many connections do you have? What kind of connection are they? However, the kind of connection is just as important as the number. Fewer better relationships can be better than many not-so-great ones, right? Right.
But back to the social graph. Relationship management is key in leveraging your network to gain ground in the social graph. And there are three things that need to be accounted for.
- Number of connections
- The people
- Kind of relationship
How many connections?
When each connection increases social amplification, it’s easy to see why an emphasis would be put on raw numbers. It’s a total number’s game, after all. On the internet, amplification knows no bounds, and the easiest way to achieve that is to accrue connections.
Think of the retweet model. When you say or share something with those on your social networks, the number of eyes and ears it crosses exponentially grows with the more connections you have.
Influence, reach, and having the ability to “know a guy” or “know a guy that knows a guy” are all the immediate perks. By having a large network, the numbers work in your favor and your connections will work for you. Being able to know a guy is invaluable when adding value to your network. Make an introduction!
In addition to hard numbers, those you connect with is also important.
With whom is the relationship and what kind is it?
However, with the numbers needs to come quality. The people you connect with is just as important as how many. Having many poor links may be less efficient than having a few very strong ones. Ideally, we’d all be able to have many strong relationships, but we’ve all been subject to Dunbar’s number. However, with the help of technology there’s some wiggle room. Use what’s at your disposal (your phone, email, CRM tools, and social media) to first find who can create relationships with and whittle it down from there.
And lastly, it’s important to know how strong your relationships are. It’s probably obvious, but this is vital. It’s easy to keep fewer relationships strong than it is to keep many strong. Better to be good at fewer things than poor at many.
Who you know, how you know them, and how many you know. As long as you keep this panoply of relationship pillars in check, you’ll be able to use relationship management to get a handle on your social graph.