One of the people I’m following on Twitter (who shall remain nameless) recently commented: “Prefer getting updates from my friends via Twitter. Much more efficient and I don’t need to see them.” Hmmm….
I don’t know about you, but even though I love Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, yada, yada, I still really like getting together with my college buddies, grad school buddies, fellow DC Web Women, fellow volunteers for Doorways, etc.. Yes, it’s “efficient” to get updates from friends in far away lands via their social network pages, and I have strengthened ties with folks via Twitter and FB, but will my social networks ever trump my traditional networks?
I don’t think so.
A recent article in The Economist maintains that “(o)ld-style networks… are usually stronger than online ones, , and the trust between their members facilitates transactions of all sorts.” Transactions like doing business together, hiring staff, and lending money.
For me, however, it’s not a black and white issue. Here’s what I think is happening:
- Family networks will probably trump all networks because “blood is thicker than water” although we all know that families are also our craziest and most dysfunctional networks.
- School, fraternity and work networks will remain the strongest because these are ties that get developed over time and involve shared efforts. So for me, my Stanford and Matrix Group networks will continue to be my strongest networks.
- Offline networks that involved shared interests will remain strong because members have a common interest. These networks, however, will be expanded to include online members. In fact, I expect these networks to be strengthened by the ability to connect with others worldwide, in different languages.
- Increasingly, we will use our online and offline networks to make connections for work and play. For example, I may access the SAIS alumni network for a contact at the White House, but once find a contact, I will continue to mine that person’s network through LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Across all our online networks, we will likely target a few people with whom we will establish a meaningful offline relationship. I have “met” and networked with dozens of people through Twitter but I have singled out a few for further cultivation and even a face to face meet up.
- We will rely more and more on our social networks to initiate and nurture our relationships. My school (grade school, high school, college and grad school) friends are all over the world. Where I would have relied on phone calls, letters and emails to stay in touch in the past, I now use FB to stay connected and certainly connect with more people on a regular basis through social networks.
I actually feel that my offline networks are enhanced by the addition of online network capabilities. And I love being able to share stories, photos and videos with family and friends in one fell swoop.
How about you? How would you rate the strength of your traditional vs. online networks? How are they competing or complementing each others? Which is stronger?