Using Gladwell To Create A Real (Social) Network

Last week I participated in panel discussion on the topic of social-ties and networking.  The inspiration for the talk was Malcolm Gladwell’s controversial article on the impact of social media.  The panel took a marketing view of the topic and the discussion was thought provoking and full of insights.

One of my favorite concepts the panel brought up was around the idea of network “repeaters”.  The thought being that if you want an idea to spread, it has to find enough repeaters in the network in order to boost the momentum of the message.  If your idea doesn’t reach the next repeater, it runs out of steam and doesn’t have the reach needed to make a major impact.

Overall, the panel discussion was a successful debate and a lot of fun in a relatively short period of time.  So, what did the panel audience think of the talk?

That’s the interesting part, there were no audience members.  The panel was organized just for the sake of discussion.

Jeremy Epstein, of the Never Stop Marketing company, put the panel together and here’s what I think made it such a success:

  • Relevant topic – Gladwell’s piece was not only a current topic but also full of many “meaty” points making for an interesting discussion.
  • No strings attached – there was no hidden agenda, just a request to bring a point of view and be ready to talk.
  • No chitchat – Jeremy set up a Facebook group so everyone could do a quick introduction before the call.
  • Ready to go – having a designated moderator with starter questions guaranteed a fast start.
  • Short and sweet – at twenty-five minutes, the panel had enough time to cover 3-4 solid topics and didn’t require a major time commitment.

The irony of the panel was that it was doing exactly what Gladwell wrote can’t happen – using social media to turn weak links into strong links.  Most of the members of the panel had never met face to face, so this was a chance to get to know each without having to wait for an event.  Relationship building can happen over time but Jeremy added kindle to the fire with this engaging discussion.

Social media may help you add to your contacts list but this doesn’t mean much if they are all weak links.  Major kudos to Jeremy for coming up with this smart idea.  I am hoping that this was just the start of many more such virtual meet-ups.

The next question is what can you do to help turn those friends and followers into a real network?

Image Source: Flickr

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