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Isn’t Social Networking About Connecting With People?

by David Brock on February 16th, 2011

I received an intriguing invitation to “connect” today.  Best described, I was asked to connect with a “Thing,”  Not a person.  This thing had a relatively normal first name, but then a very gimmicky “phrase” as a last name. 

Curious, I looked the person up at LinkedIn.  He went by the same name.  I went to his website, likewise, he identified himself the same way.  I had no sense of the person I was connecting with.  I felt I was connecting with a “phrase,” not a real human being.  Nothing in his site or profile gave me any indication of who he was or what he stood for.  Nothing indicated, in fact, that he was real.

I started thinking, how do I address this person?  “Mr. ‘Phrase,’”  I thought, would his wife be “Mrs. ‘Phrase,’”  are there a bunch of little “Phrases” running around at home.  If they are little “Phrases,” perhaps it would be more appropriate to address them as “Words.”

I wonder what this person was trying to achieve?  I really like to get to know people.  I think relationships are about people—though I am fond of my bicycle—I spent a lot of time riding it.

I’ve noticed a lot of this recently.  People tend to be referring to themselves as inanimate objects, perhaps a collection of adjectives and verbs, a provocative phrase.  Is that supposed to be who they are, what they value, what they stand for?

I don’t know if this is a trend is a misguided attempt at personal branding.  But I don’t get it.  I still believe in connecting with people, getting to know them.  I believe in looking people in the eye, when I have the chance.  I believe in shaking hands—both as a form of greeting and as a form of agreement.  I believe in talking to people, hearing their voices.  I believe in social networking, but with people.  In social networking, I am constantly amazed at how, over time, one can really get a sense of an individual.

I understand the value of establishing a personal brand, but ultimately, people buy from people.  I don’t know how to buy from a brand, frankly, I have no desire to buy from a brand.

Many of my most valued relationships are with people I initially met through social networking.  I’ve established a new business with my friend Anthony Iannarino, I first met him when I disagreed with him in a blog post.  We’ve become close friends and business partners.  I can name dozens of others—friends, business partners, professional colleagues, customers, and clients who I’ve first met through social networking.

Social networking was the means by which we were introduced.  But I know each of them as people—who they are, where they’ve come from, what their dreams and goals are, what they value.  Maybe that’s old fashioned, but people are important.

Am I missing something?

While you consider this, I have a meeting with Mr. Specialized Roubaix.  We’re off for an hour of hill climbing.  Guess I’ll ask him how the family of little bikes are doing, wonder if they’ve outgrown their training wheels?

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4 Comments
  1. You’re right, the whole point of social media is to interact with people. Social media was created as a tool to get to know people on a more personal level, but in order to take that relationship to the next level,it’s important to evolve and go beyond social media because sometimes people tend to hide behind their profiles.

    • Nick, I couldn’t agree with you more. Social media is only one part of developing a relationship.

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