Relationship, Collaboration, or Noise

Daniel Ben-Horin, CEO of TechSoup Global, wrote a guest post on about “Collaboration, Innovation and Noise,” in which he said:

No one is forced to follow anyone or friend anyone. Think of the numbers in context. What does it mean to have 200,000 Twitter followers? Are they the kind of followers who follow a thousand other Twitterers (which is the same as following no one at all)? And, always, come back to what do you yourself enjoy and find meaningful in interacting with others using new tools.

Configuring your social media practice to your interests and personality is a dynamic process; at the beginning, it feels overwhelming but soon you find your way.  As the popular metaphor goes, social media is a rushing river; your words, wise or foolish, will disappear (only to be resurrected when you run for the Senate). What will truly build and what may last are relationships and ideas.

I certainly value relationships, and I especially love strong ones. However, there is an influential social network theory called “the strength of weak ties,” created by Sociologist Mark Granovetter, of Stanford University. The theory explains the surprising value of relatively superficial relationships. The theory may apply to social media.

For networking purposes “weak ties” can be more helpful than strong ties, because they connect us to resources and information we would not otherwise know about. Close friends tend to know the same people and things we know.  “Weak” ties, i.e., friends who are less close, are more useful when it comes to searching for new jobs, ideas, experts, and knowledge.

Weak ties require less “maintenance” and therefore are less time consuming. People can keep up with more weak ties without them being a burden. Although nothing can substitute for the intrinsic value of strong relationships, there is also a value in having many “weak” “ones.

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