Social Networking: How’s It Supposed to Work?

You Have a Message Waiting From . . .

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?

Read the whole feature in today’s Blog Herald by clicking the logo.

It’s about blogging and real life.
–ME “Liz” Strauss

Related articles
Liz Strauss at The Blog Herald, The Blogging Times, and Who’s One in a Million?


  1. says


    What an enjoyable article! I think we tend to adjust to the next new thing and sometimes forget the old ways.

    And thank you for joining my business network on LinkedIn, I felt something was missing without you. These days I feel more connected online than offline.

  2. says

    Hi Valeria!
    I delighted you enjoyed the article. It takes me a while to find my feet sometimes in the virtual world. I needed to make sense where I could and admit defeat where I could not find a point.

    I was so pleased to be invited to join your Linked in crew. Now, that’s how I think networking seems it should work in my understanding of what a network is — People who know each other and would feel comfortable recommending each other to a friend. :)

  3. says

    Well now…if you, and Rowse over at Problogger, are having trouble making sense of social networking on the Web, I guess I can stop criticizing myself for not having figured it out yet either.

    In my most cynical moments, I wonder how **some** of these communities differ from the clique mentality of high school. Whoever has the biggest group of friends wins…regardless of how substantive or superficial any of those friendships may be.

    After two or three years of leaving it to sit idle, I finally dragged myself back to my LinkedIn membership after reading Guy Kawasaki’s recent posts on LinkedIn. Like you, Liz, I haven’t met anyone on LI who has had business come from being on LI…but have met people who said they met people they would never have met and found resources that it might have been months or years before they found them on their own.

    I think there’s something very telling in comments that you and Valeria have made — and they harken back to a discussion you and I had here a few weeks back.

    You said: “… the time involved to participate would be greater than I spend with some of my clients.”

    Valeria said: “These days I feel more connected online than offline.”

    If we end up spending so much time online establishing and building social networks/communities/whatever, what suffers in our real worlds — in our businesses, our jobs, our families, our friendships, our volunteer commitments, our pets, our own self-care? Does the value and importance of what’s online exceed the value and importance of what’s not?

    I doubt it.

  4. says

    Again you get right to the core. That’s the reason when I’m invited to connect on one of networking sites I decide immediately and move on. I don’t spend much time checking to see how my community has grown. I don’t spend much time looking for new ways to grow it.

    Once on the day of a high school reunion, I passed a pat classmate on the street of my hometown. I asked her whether she was going. She said, “You know, I see the people I care about seeing.” In a way I thought that was a brilliant answer. It’s one that fits the way I feel about Social Networks online now.

  5. says

    P.S. The quote I pulled from Valeria’s comment, and my subsequent paragraph, should not be taken as criticism of Valeria.

    I pulled it because I felt it fit nicely with Liz’s comment, and helped summarize a sentiment I hear from people who have to spend a lot of time online (or have been made to feel like they have to in order to be successful with their business). You feel like you need to be online doing all this…until you realize you’ve been online for four hours, haven’t had lunch, haven’t walked the dog, and haven’t accommodated your kid’s request from three hours ago that you come sit and color with her/him. When do the costs become too high?

  6. says

    Just another thought, . . . People can feel more connected online than off without spending more time online or negleting their offline responsibilities.

    Part of the atrraction of online relationships is that you can find a group of folks who want talk about subjects you care deeply about that might be hard to gather in the 3-D world. If your favorite topic are esoteric or your level of intelligence puts you out of the mainstream I could see this happening very easily.

    Thiat person would be making more connections without leaving any behind. :)

  7. says

    I think this was a great article, Liz. I’m pretty new to the blogosphere, and am taking my time in building a network, just like I do in the real world. Meeting someone once or twice doesn’t make them my best friend. (or mean that I should expect them to give me virtual validation.)

    Those blogger roll pictures that some have amassed on their sites remind me of kids collecting baseball cards or class pictures – big deal. If there’s more to it, I’m not seeing it.

    Linked In comment is interesting. I signed up a couple of years ago, and same as earlier commenter, I am only now working on it primarily because I have seen so much mention of it around the blogosphere.

    I think one needs an integrated Social Network – electronic or virtual should be only one part of it. But, it’s great when the parts can overlap (like Liz meeting W and J for lunch)!

  8. says

    Hi Francie,
    I love your analogy to kids with baseball cards. At one point in the article I had a line about folks I didn’t know being collectors and turning me into a “collectee.” (which isn’t a word, and I’m glad of that.)

    My experience with networks is that they happen naturally if you show a sincere interest in all of the people you meet. The people who meet you are drawn to that interest and sincerity and real connection can be made — one that gets remembered the next time you meet.

    It’s not good when someone asks to be my contact and I have to ask, “Excuse me, do I know you? Have we met?”

  9. says

    Hi all

    Liz, I think your last entry is spot on: “My experience with networks is that they happen naturally if you show a sincere interest in all of the people you meet”
    Online (2D ?) or in the real world (3D ?) it’s down to showing sincere and real interest in the other which creates a ‘network’ of natural contacts.

    My 2D network is constantly growing, so is my 3D network (without being part of a ‘strict’ community).

  10. says

    Hi Karin,
    Maybe it’s just the ease with which people can form contacts — click, click — that reduces the social networking media to communities of people who don’t know each other.

    The only equivalent I could come up with in the 3-D world would be to say that I’m part of my health club community, because I work out there and other people do too — even though I’ve never seen most of them or talked to those that I have.

  11. says

    Hi Whitney:

    Online you need to have a thick skin because you’re missing all the nonverbals and the 3D effects of being in the same room — sometimes people feel they can say something and walk away, while in the real world there may be the sense of more accountability in face to face interactions. On the other hand, online you can also feel that walking away from a topic or place is easier; less strings attached.

    So no offense taken at all. As Liz captured so well in her subsequent comment to your musings, I am meeting people online that I would take years to meet offline. Geographic distance has something to do with it; passion for a topic also plays a role. We if didn’t feel so strongly about what we write, we would not find the time to blog, for example.

    Note that I have spent some time with Liz and her guests online. And as with offline investment, time allows people to connect better.

    I’ve used LinkedIn successfully to point people out to each other. Because we create our own profiles, we have control over the message of us to the world. As Liz may be able to see, my LinkedIn connections are from every end of the spectrum — and they reflect the eclectic nature of my curiosity and career. That’s not in place of meeting people in real life, it’s a way to harness the collective intelligence and overlap information in new ways.

    I lead quite an active offline life with live conversations, which I host, friends’ meet-ups, dinners, and plenty of networking. And that is also what I can offer to my connections online. Does it make sense?

  12. says

    I was (going to be again) a member of our local BNI which I consider a 3D business network, but for me personal also a social network (with some members I ‘connected/connect’ deeper than for just ‘casual’ business contacts). Here again it is how much you give of yourself (instead of just take) from a relationship that creates the bonds.

    Agree totally with you. Without online ‘networks’ (and I think replying to blogs starts the building of networks) meeting the same people in real life would mostly not be possible. I’m in Kent UK, most of you are in the US of A and spread throughout the country. How would we ever had met otherwise?

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