This has been in my draft folder for a while. So maybe not recent yet still relevant.
Recently, I have seen a lot of commentary on the web and in print on the power of our “Social Peers” to influence us. In a Business Week article about the story surrounding “Social Network the Movie”, the authors proclaim that the knowledge that your friends like Coca Cola is way more influential than traditional advertising. Maybe.
I also follow the Thought Leader Charles H. Green who, as co-author of the book The Trusted Advisor, is something of a thought leader in the arena of trust. In his blog, Trust Matters , recently he asks “is real change possible through social network? Can we develop real trust via Twitter and Facebook?”
What really struck me was the commentary to the post. Many people wholeheartedly say that you cannot develop real trust via a Facebook or Twitter account. To that, I say maybe.
What I have observed in myself is that I have about (by my count) 1500 “friends”, between Twitter, Facebook and Linked in. To the question of how many of those am I really close to, I would say maybe 5 or 6. Frankly, there are only one or two that I would trust with watching my back in a dangerous situation. But, isn’t that the case out there in the real world? How many people in your office do you trust with your back? How many in your class room? I mean, really, if any of these friends were in a dark alley with you, how many could you actually count on? (Subject for a different post but you might be surprised)
What I have experienced is that of those 1500 friends I have moved a dozen from the place where we just follow each other to where they know that I care about them and their lives. I have shared in anniversary celebrations, sent congratulations for “out of country” weddings, and supported them with their art openings. And in a reciprocal fashion they have inquired about my new business, and checked in when they haven’t seen or heard from me in a while.
But, you see, I took that big step that is required to develop trust – I took a risk. I reached out to schedule a call, I met them (in town) for a cup of coffee, out of town over the phone. And I stay in touch with them and inquire about their well-being.
Keith Ferrazzi speaks to the value of building relationships. Just like the relationships we develop in the world (not cyberspace), we have to take them one step at a time. We share some ideas, we learn about their families or their dreams, perhaps we connect them to someone who can help them in a job search or a business transaction. Over time, we develop a relationship. Can my friend in Great Britain come pick me up at the hospital? Probably not. Does he care? Yep.
Take good care.