Here is my social network as created by the Mapping tool on Linkedin. It's not the 100% true picture but it looks like 90% to me. You can use their mapping tool by going here.
If I am right and we are moving to an economy that depends on our networks, then it is essential that we learn what each of our networks means and what we can do to make them healthier. So, with that in mind, let's look at mine and I will share some lessons with you.
Next week, I will post a podcast that I recorded yesterday with the Master of Networks, Valdis Krebs. Anything I know is because of him. He will go much deeper than I - so this is an introduction.
Diversity - In nature diversity is a good thing - so it is with our social networks. You can see that I am connected to a series of worlds. PEI , Public Media, Network Thinkers, Family and I have 2 outside nets of New Military Thinkers and my legacy Corporate connections.
I think that this does not look too bad - I have good links into many fields. How does your world look?
Our networks are like gardens, we can always make them better. We can always add and remove. We can always pay attention.
We can always strengthen these links. This does not mean that you randomly try and make friends. This mapping tool shows you where to be most effective. For you don't not have to work everywhere - only where it adds the most value.
Lets look at inside PEI. Karen Murchison, John Morris and Cynthia King - all members of the Queen Street Commons have massive connections on PEI to artisans and freelancers. They are themselves clustered in the centre like a sun in a planetary system. The QSC is in reality a hub of the freelance and artisanal life on PEI. If you want to be a successful freelancer on PEI, the QSC is a good place to start.
There is a hierarchy in networks. The ones who are most connected and the ones who connect across networks are the most important. Where do you fit with these key people? Maybe you are one of them. Look at Will Pate in the Green on the top right. Will is an Islander who lives away and is a connector between PEI and the Network Thinkers. Will is important for PEI.
The people who connect one system to another are VERY important people.
Your key networks will share this kind of hierarchy. Important to know how it works and where you stand.
Tim Eby is such a system connector. He is not only well connected inside pub media - he was the Chair of NPR - but is well connected people who can help such as Doc Searls - who is in turn the connector into Network Thinkers. Having the Trust of people like Tim and Doc is therefore important. It is not easily gained either.
This is not a cocktail party - but your life. How you behave is key.
There are ultra close connectors - as in my case Jevon MacDonald who is like a twin to me. I don't want to piss Jevon off as he can influence most of my network. You too will have your Jevons. Pay attention to them. They are better than family.
I said that this was just an introduction, so we will stop here. Much more to come with Valdis and later with others.
So when you map your world, check these issues:
- Are you happy with how diverse it is? If it is not diverse you will find it hard to use crowd sourcing etc and you will be too deep in your own echo chamber
- Do you know who your key connectors are and do you care enough about them? For they give you the best access to the sub networks?
- Do you know who counts the most in each network? Again this is all about leverage.
For in the real network world it is not the number of "Friends" you have but the quality of your inner circle.
Is there a better way to see your network? I think that there is. My advice, and Valdis's advice is to map out your best connections and then see how this works. Here is how you can do this using the Permaflower and Magic Numbers (Dunbar's Social Gradients). Using your Linkedin map then fill out this more personal map.
Put your 3 most important people in the centre. Then the 8. Then the 80. See how they overlap or don't. Then you can start to see where you need to pay attention.
You can then use this map to see what you need to do to fit what you need your network to be about. don't worry the work is not about sucking up.
In the podcast with Valdis we will talk a lot about "Weak Ties" and explode the myth that these are merely casual aquaintances. We will see that trust is the key. Old but good friends are very valuable to us. You don't need to talk or see them a lot but you have to maintain the trust.
Later we will explore what you have to BE rather than what you have to DO.
More on all of this in my book - You Don't Need a Job and even more in the book to come in November - You Don't Need a Banker. For when it comes to the new credit system - which is of course the OLD credit system - your reputation and your network are everything.
It's all about the kind of person you are.
The LinkedIn Tool is very easy to use and allows you to do all sorts of tests and analysis - I cannot recomend it enough. Happy exploring. You future depends on knowing more about your network.