Wednesday 29 February 2012

How social are my networks?

network We network for many reasons – some of them social, some of them not.

I recognise at least 4 types of networks to which I belong, or have belonged in the past.

The first is purely social, hosted on Facebook. The majority of the people in this network are people I know personally, and have some sort of relationship with. I can picture them – I know how they look and sound; I know what they like to do. I am interested in them as people, and most of them I know socially. This is my social network, which was far more active when I was single. 

The second network is on Linked-In. Here I have over 1000 connections, and I have met very few of them. I don’t know how they look, or sound; I don’t know what they like to do. I have no relationship with most of them. Linked-In is all about public profile (largely aimed at job-seekers) and I use this network to keep a high profile. There’s nothing social about it at all.

The third network is among our partners and franchises. This is a business network, with a social element, as I am interested in all of them as individuals. We are, after all, engaged in a joint enterprise together – the growth of a Knowledge Management business and brand.

Then when I was at BP, I was heavily involved with the KM Community of Practice. This was a true Community of Practice; about 180 people involved in delivering Knowledge Management within the multinational oil company. Although I would not describe this network as social (180 people is really too many to get to know, too many to have a social relationship with), there was a definite kinship, or kindred spirit. We were not engaged in a joint enterprise, but we were all engaged in, and passionate about, knowledge management within BP. There was a “shared identity” with the subject and with the Community as a whole, and therefore by inference, with the individuals within it.

4 types of network; one social, one promotional, one a shared enterprise, and one a shared identity.

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