Over time, social networks become a place to accumulate contacts. I've used LinkedIn for nearly five years, and tools like Facebook and Twitter have become part of a daily ritual. Do you interact with those folks regularly, or is it a virtual rolodex accumulating dust? Do you watch on the sidelines, or really engage? I've written before about how I scrutize connections on social networks - I like to keep both Facebook and LinkedIn contacts to people I know or have interacted with in a meaningful way. I've also discussed how social media can enhance real world relationships. With little effort, we each can make these network connections more personal and useful.
Recently a friend contacted me about a potential job opportunuity at one of my clients. Of course I'd be will to pass along a resume and make an introduction. We started talking, and I suggested to go through my LinkedIn contacts to see if there are other potential folks she would be interested in talking to. She was very appreciate of the help, which took a quick conversation and an email to make happen. It's not difficult - so why don't we do it more often?
Take a few minutes and think about the last time you helped someone out leveraging your social networks. Bryan Person wrote a great post this week about how often he mentions himself vs. others in his posts on Twitter. While social media and networks can be a great personal promotion vehicle, there is definitely a sense of contributing to help others that makes the networks meaningful.
I'd encourage you to take a moment after reading this and reconnect with someone in one of your social networks. Personally, I like to connect dots to help folks - there's some satisfaction from being able to leverage social networks to help friends out - either professionally or personally. Some small examples:
These small interactions make your social network more relevant, meaningful and worthwhile - and one day those folks may come around and "scratch your back" too. How can you help someone out? Share a useful link, introduce a relevant connection, recommend a resource. You'll get more from your social networks than just "people watching."
How did your social network last help you? Have a good story to share?
Photo credit: 7-how-7 via Flickr