Guest Blog From The First Couple of Technology: Investment Vs. Engagement or Pancakes Vs. Crepes
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One conversation with digital media consultant and co-founder of Stardust Global Ventures Sheryl Breuker and you will notice she is cut from a different mold. A digital mold of awesome. Part technology expert and part visionary, Sheryl and her partner Ken Camp have their pulse on the tech world and are some of the most connected folks on the west coast.
Sheryl has a great Internet interview series entitled “Incidental Interviews” and she has gotten to some of the best in the industry including tech all star Robert Scoble. I had the privilege and honor of being interviewed by Sheryl as well on the subject of the blend of new and old media, how networking is critical in starting a business, and some leaks about the exciting things we are bringing to The Rise To The Top viewers (shhhh). Check it out!
In the world of entrepreneurship, it is important to not only have a vision but also welcome collaboration and different perspectives. We are going to have a few guest blog posts in the near future and I know you will find the writing and ideas captivating, informative and well worth your time….
Live Passionately! – David Siteman Garland – The Creative Opportunities Specialist and Entrepreneurial Chameleon – therisetothetop.com
A lot of buzz has been happening lately all surrounding the idea that maybe we all jumped the gun and tried too hard to have the biggest network. Chris Brogan has made really good points about why a large network is valuable to him and to others. In his article entitled – The Vital Importance of your Network, Chris asks, “How many people can you reach if your job goes away“. I’ll grant you, that’s a very powerful message and a really good reason to consider the value of a large network. I know. I live it today.
Where I think it gets a little skewed is that we all don’t have the prestige to use a large network, or make it work for us, because while many people grow very large networks, nobody is paying attention to it. It’s strictly about the numbers. Something gets lost in the translation. I believe it’s lack of engagement.
How much time do you give to any one person in your network? How many of those in your network do you engage with weekly? Monthly? What about Daily? People with very large networks tend to think they are engaged because a lot of people want to pay attention to them so they follow and are followed in return. But how much conversation, reciprocal conversation is made with each person in a network of 20k? At what point are we spread too thin to be a pancake, hearty and full of flavor, and instead find we’re crepes, flat, thin and in need of additional ingredients to taste good?
This brings me to another thought, because like many of you I actually follow the words of some of those A-listers. I pay attention and it occurred to me to ask myself why? Why does it matter that Robert Scoble had a really good post about shifts in microblogging when I would like to have a conversation with him about it, and realized it’s highly unlikely he will engage me back after the first wave of comments? Is half a conversation still valuable? What is Scoble’s investment in me as someone he follows and someone who follows back? I’d guess it’s fairly low. While we have met in person, were he to see me on the street he’d not know who I was. My investment also is diminished because I read the words but choose not to engage for futility.
For most of the well known bloggers/internet personalities, I’d wager they believe they bring value by simply pointing out hot new topics, sharing tidbits from their brains, and pushing out ideas they think are new. Not very social, is it? Does the belief they are bringing new ideas to the forefront, and our grabbing onto it make it so? To me that’s an old media ideal. Think of broadcast media and how it was a one sided conversation. What’s happening to that today? I’ll posit that’s one of the reasons old media is finding it so difficult to transition. They’re still stuck in the past where they were kings and we tuned in to be told what to think. Look at all the newspapers that are dying for an example of why old ideas don’t work anymore. I’ll take it one step further and suggest the very people who are paid attention to most today will soon go the way of dinosaurs. We’ll remember them, we’ll talk fondly of them, or not, but either way we’ll think past tense only. Longevity can’t be had by people who don’t change their thinking to incorporate this a.d.d. culture we live in.
How should we use social media?
My premise is that we need to take that term and put it into practice. Up until now all we’ve done is grasp at straws trying to play follow the leader without any thought to what it all meant or how it would all play out. It’s why so many of the people who believed more followers was important have now turned around and started really considering their own ability to be engaged.
On a personal note I recognize I can’t possibly follow every person on the planet who may be interesting to me. Certainly not and find value. At some level my attempt to follow too many people devalues them and that’s not fair. Each and every person in my network deserves more from me and I deserve the benefit of what they offer in this world as well.
A new connection on twitter made a statement last night that we use twitter as a social networking tool. Many companies, start-ups, smb’s use twitter as a microblogging tool to serve up bits of information to their consumers or customer base. While I certainly see there may be value in that model, social networking, social media begins with social.
To garner the attention the so-called A-listers have, you have to have a couple of things on your side. Timing is critical. A strong message that people want to hear when you are ready to give it, and a brand that makes sense in some way. I’ll be frank, I have aspired to that station myself and I realize no matter how much fun I am, no matter the value in what I have to say, I simply don’t have the publicity surrounding my brand some of those A-listers have. Does that mean I am not as important? I believe that is dependent on how you define value. I know I’m important to my network.
So let’s talk about what that means. Importance, as defined by Merriam-Webster, means: a quality or aspect having great worth or significance. So now we have a definition, what does it mean and how does it apply to us?
Our actual value is determined by the level of investment we put into something. If we only occasionally have conversation with people, answering the odd question and otherwise simply placing links in the stream, can we claim value? Isn’t an investment by us, for others, where our real value lies? Think for a minute what has the most value in your life. For most of us there is a clarity of value classification. We place high importance on our family, if we have no family, our friends come next. We place little value in what the big company down the street is doing. We only find value in the products they may produce, certainly not in the company.
Let’s be clear here. I have met Robert Scoble, interviewed him too, I have interviewed and talked to Chris Brogan, I have also met Jeff Pulver. Anyone care to guess who I place highest on my list for importance? I will tell you that top of my list is Jeff Pulver hands down. Want to know why? Jeff and I have been on road trips together, eaten private dinners together, spent time talking to one another, I’ve gotten video from him with his doggies, I have sent him video when I’m at home not all made up. We’ve seen each other when we were at our best, and when we were tired. Jeff matters and why he matters is the investment we both have in the relationship. Robert and I have met a couple times. He will not have remembered either of them. Zero investment. Chris would remember me but we aren’t close. That requires more time and investment.
So in summary let me just say, it should be clear by now that a relationship requires investment. Importance in your network requires the same. What’s your level of importance in your network? Are you engaged bringing value and investment? Are you simply looking for an information exchange?
Answer this for yourself. Why do you think I might want you in my twitter stream? What gives you the right to invade my world? Simply having a presence on twitter does NOT show engagement, and quite frankly, I think it’s a lot of hooey. However, we all find value differently.
Let me just ask again, are you a pancake or a crepe? What is your preference? I like both for different reasons but I can eat a lot fewer pancakes and feel full.
To find out more about Sheryl and Ken, check out Stardust Global Ventures
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