An entrepreneur cannot survive without connections. I am intimately acquainted with this concept. If I didn’t know people, then people wouldn’t know me. This is a very scary reality for a business owner because people generally want to hire people they know.
This idea got me thinking about my connections:
- Who do I know?
- How do I know this person?
- How well do I know them?
- How close are we?
Our new world of social media (love that term) has really muddied the concept of “connection.” We’ve got all these different levels of connecting and varying social norms/rules that go along with each level. It can all get very confusing very quickly…
Here are some levels of “connection” that I’ve been kicking around my head.
I hope you recognize a progression here…
You Don’t Know Me (Online)
You just found me on Twitter and clicked follow because I’m an interesting dude. I followed you back because you seem like an interesting person as well. We know nothing more than 160 characters about each other, but you could say we are now connected.
Rules: Tweet with me, but you probably shouldn’t butt into personal conversations with friends.
Someone You Trust Knows Me (Online)
Perhaps you tweet a real estate or consulting need. One of your friends has done business with me and responds with my information. At this point, I’ve actually been recommended to you by a friend; you know I’m a good guy, but you still don’t really know too much about me. But, we are still connected, right?
Rules: We’re brewing a bit of a transactional relationship here. I like to get to know my clients well so that I can minister to them on a very personal level. Don’t get too close too fast, however. It could get weird.
You Kinda Know Me (Online)
Maybe you appreciated one of my blog posts so much that you decided to friend me on Facebook, which I’d encourage you to do. I accept your friend request. Now we’ve got a little more information on each other, but have still never met. Surely you could claim that we’re connected, however.
Rules: You can post on my wall and comment on my status, but if you start commenting on pictures of me and my family, you might be crossing a blurry line.
We Really Know Each Other (Online)
Maybe you like my blog and comment on it quite a bit (please do!) In return, I check out your blog and enjoy that as well. We share email conversations, blog comments, tweets, and Facebook interactions.
We’ve become friends. Our interactions hit on an emotional level and we actually know and care about each other. Can you really say that we were ever connected before this level of relationship?
Rules: Tweet, Facebook, Comment, Email, Call me. It’s all fair game.
I Don’t Know You (Offline)
We make our 30 second introductions at a business mixer, exchange business cards, and each go on our merry way. You’ve got my card and I’ve got yours, so we could say we’re connected.
Rules: Shake my hand next time we meet, but don’t give me a hug and ask me about my mother. Call me so we can set up some time to get to know each other.
Someone You Trust Knows Me (Offline)
You’re talking to a friend and mention that you’ve really been having trouble selling your house. That friend mentions that he knows a great REALTOR who can help you take care of that (shameless I know.) That friend makes the introduction. Now, we’re connected, aren’t we?
Rules: We’ve got another transactional relationship forming. I’m going to schedule a consultation to get to know you and your needs better. We will become friends, but not on the first date.
I Kinda Know You (Offline)
Maybe we’re taking a hobby class together with 12 other people. We engage in a few circumstantial conversations, share a few laughs, and exchange contact information. We’re a little bit more connected than we would be in the previous example.
Rules: You can give me a hug and ask me about my mother, but you probably shouldn’t call me at 2 AM just to vent about your bad day.
We Know Each Other (Offline)
We sit down for a cup of coffee. We engage each other in conversation. You tell me the trials and tribulations of running your business. I tell you about my struggles. We share our very human experiences and know, intimately, what it’s like to be in the other’s shoes. I leave with an honest desire to help you overcome your situation and achieve your goals. You feel the same way. Now that’s a connection, isn’t it?
Rules: You can call me at 2 AM.
I’m not taking a stand here. I really don’t think there is a perfect answer, so I’ll leave it open for discussion.
At what point can you truly say that we are “connected?”