Everyone has a story. A reason why they are who they are, why they do what they do.
For most of us, that story is paved by people. Life is about the people we meet and the experiences we create with them.
It’s obviously very important to surround ourselves with the right people, those who we want to create great things with, those who can help us to achieve success and happiness.
But who are those people? And how do you find them?
Of course, the simple, short answer is: “it depends”.
Finding people who matter for your career
That one is obvious: use a professional social networking site. There are several free services such as Branchout or Viadeo, but LinkedIn is the biggest in terms of size, and probably the most advanced in terms of features.
Connect with people based on similar interests, skills or based on a company you admire and/or would like to work for someday.
Finding people who matter for important moments in your life
Friends are there when you want to share meaningful events in your life, when you need emotional support and relief, when you long for that invaluable sense of bonding.
Facebook is obviously the best place to reconnect with friends and familly. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s addictive, and everybody uses it.
So, reconnect with friends on Facebook. Pay attention to your privacy settings, but don’t be afraid to share, and don’t dismiss it too quickly as just a vain and shallow communication tool. Most Facebook users get more from it than they put in, study says.
Finding people who matter for activities and leisure
Long before Facebook was a sanctuary and a global institution, a “friend” was someone we use to share real life activities & hobbies with. It has changed a little since then …
Social discovery services like Meetup or most recently Highlight are great to meet new people and make new friends based on your interests. If your current friends don’t share your excitement about how fun it is to sing the latest Adele hit backwards while playing chess in a night club, you may find one or two others partners in crime with a social discovery service.
Twitter, and most noticeably Google+ (IMHO) are also excellent ways to meet people based on similar tastes. However the connection is mainly virtual. It means more potential, and a lot more interesting people to find, but it may mean less genuine relationships and less meaningful interactions.
Making the best out of the people you find
Let’s get to the beef right away: Finding and connecting with the right people is just a beginning.
You should give before you need to ask.
One of the biggest mistake people do when it comes to networking, is to try to get value from others before even figuring out how they can provide value themselves.
Don’t be this guy …
Connecting the dots …
Managing your social capital and the connections you create is not an easy feat. An average user has 150+ friends on Facebook, 60+ connections on LinkedIn and 120+ followers on Twitter. That’s a lot of people.
Preaching for my choir, Symbyoz can help bring some clarity and allow people to manage their social capital smartly, and easily.
First, it helps you to identify people who interact the most with you on the other social networking services. This is a great way to determine who is already listening and contributing to you, and will be more likely to keep doing so, and to focus on them. A smaller network of trust is much more manageable than a huge social network.
Second, it encourages people to keep in touch, to do more things together, and to support and help each other. This creates a place where providing value via meaningful social interactions is bound to happen more often.
Social networking will not be working for you if you don’t think long term.
Let’s go ahead and create things together.