How social is your social network?

relationshipsIn my video blog two weeks ago, The Six Degree Myth and the 29 Percent Solution, I discussed the inspiration for the book that I co-wrote with Michelle Donovan, The 29% Solution. After watching the vlog, one reader brought up an interesting point, and I would love to discuss it further.

Social media changes the game of networking, but not really how you might think. A common social networking misconception is that the number of people that you are connected with online is directly related to the number of people that you truly have a connection with in your day to day life. When widely known networking theories are applied to social media, results can vary.

This is because studies relating to social media connectivity, in this case referring to a study done by Facebook in 2011 which attempts to recreate Stanley Milgram’s Six Degrees of Separation experiment via Facebook, have one fundamental flaw.

These studies assume, and rely on the possibility, that a connection on Facebook is the same to an actual, real life relationship. I have 5,000 connections on my Facebook page. This doesn’t mean that I have 5,000 people that I know well enough to ask for a favor, or that they would actually do it for me if I asked. Facebook has essentially redefined what a “friend” is so that any contact on a profile is considered a legitimate, personal relationships. According to the Dunbar Study, the true number of contacts that one person can have meaningful relationships with is around 150, and naturally this varies from person to person.

That being said, with social media, and in our day-to-day lives as well, it is not the number of links, but the quality of links that makes a difference in our networking attempts. The purpose of The 29% Solution was to explain what things I thought anyone could do to be part of the percentage of people with close, meaningful connections.

What do you think? How has social media changed how you connect with others? Share with me in the comments section below.

5 thoughts on “How social is your social network?

  1. Social media definitely has changed the way I connect with others. It has helped break the ice and allow for an otherwise cold introduction to become a warm introduction. I am active on my social networks, therefore when I attend events people recognize me and are more likely to walk up to start a conversation.

  2. Social Media has improvised communication and outreach to a certain level for business professions.
    I use Facebook for general updates and keeping an update of all people I know personally and the ones I do not know as well.
    LinkedIn however has softened the business connections and enables one to contact a wider audience for the Visibility Step of the VCP Principle.
    But above all 121(be it in person or over the web) enables more closer connections.

  3. Social media is good but where do we draw the line of personal touch. Also, how do we know each other better when we only use machines for communication. I don’t see the trust building up.

  4. I love my Facebook page. It allows my self-expression, as well as sharing what’s is important to me, as we all are connecting to others I care about. In the beginning of Facebook, it seemed to be this game to see how many “friends’ one could get. I have ‘unfriended ‘ some of the people I really don’t know that were friends of friends… Now it is about sharing and staying in touch with my beloved family and closest friends. I am able to see the day to day of my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren as well as my brother and his precious family as we now live spread from Maine, Virginia, Georgia and Florida. My granddaughter just started college. I actually can see her dorm room and her sorority sisters and the growth and fun she is experiencing away from home. THIS is priceless to me…

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