I keep hearing social media is about “building relationships”.  I even say it when I teach Social Media for Real Estate.  “Build relationships, establish your community… “  I am not saying that is incorrect, but I think that perhaps the process may not be clearly explained, or defined. You don’t just dive into a relationship. There are founding measures that occur first, which allow for a relationship to develop and a community to build.  The question then also becomes, are you really establishing a “relationship”, perhaps you are building affinity, fondness, or friendship?  I think we may be putting the cart before the horse.

What is a Connection?
Merriam Webster defines connected as:
1 : joined or linked together
4 : having social, professional, or commercial relationships <a well-connected lawyer>
5 of a set : having the property that any two of its points can be joined by a line completely contained in the set; also : incapable of being separated into two or more closed disjoint subsets.

A connection is defined in this instance than as:
a person connected with another especially by common interest.


In social media we are all seeking to make a connection with people who have common interests, therefore I would surmise that social media is more about making connections, connecting people, and expanding those connections to grow larger networks, thereby permitting more connections to be made, and eventually relationships to grow and communities to be created.  That is why I say – cart before the horse.

Connect Those People!
We are making connections.  We are finding people who have similar desires, interests, ideas, lifestyles, and so on, and when we put them in our mental rolodex, then eventually meet the right “match” for them, we immediately flip to that individual and the little light switch goes off – CONNECT THESE PEOPLE!  The connection is the power, therefore connection is king.  From the initial connection is the opportunity for the spark of inspiration or the beginning of a “relationship” to grow. 

Merriam Webster defines relationship, as it pertains to the of the world of social media as:
a state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings

Merriam Webster defines relation as it pertains to social media (IMO) as:
the state of being mutually or reciprocally interested (as in social or commercial matters)

Building What?
So a relationship can be built, should be built. But truly is that the reason for social media? Or is it really more about the network, and the connections within.  The circles of influence that expand outward from those individuals that overlap other circles of influence, allowing new and greater connections to be made?  Social media is about connections, about making, finding, allowing, building, growing, cultivating, establishing, nurturing, fertilizing, and endorsing connections.
There is such a gigantic amount of nonsense being heaped on people in the slow and steady decline of the human “relationship” that I wonder whether we are really doing anything to better our society by abusing words such as friend, relationship, compassion, communication, and affinity.

LinkedIn
They GET it.  Yes they do.  Connect the people, find the points of possible connections, and suggest the connections.  Hot damn!  I had been discounting them for quite a few years, and after their redesign (the old GUI was so poorly done, it hurt to look at it – part of the reason I think they weren’t growing like they should have, there is psychology to visual design believe it or not).  If someone said they could only pick one “social” site to be involved with, which should it be – Linked-In – with a flashing neon pointing sign – Linked-In! Get there, get on it, get connected, spend a few days building it up. That is THE place to be.  This is not to say they always got it, or they do it right, but it is the one “must be” place in social media. C-O-N-N-E-C-T-I-O-N.  Yes, a TwitterQueen did write that.  I do find it amusing that LinkedIn uses the tag line is “Relationships Matter“.

Social media is about connections, about finding the connecting points, about building the circles bigger, and those connections become joining points that allow for other connections.  Maybe this is the way we will finally find world peace?  Who knows?  Before I went to the #140conference I didn’t know there was this awesome guy in Detroit who I needed to connect with a friend/VC guy in California for a concept that we had talked about some months back.

Serendipity and Destiny
 I am not trying to devalue connections. I have had the wonderful opportunity in my life to have a few connections that sparked amazing relationships – I think beyond the definition and basics of what a connection is there is something deeper that we as human beings do bring to the table; some degree of it is magnetism and charisma.  Like minds, chemical reactions, destiny exists, so does serendipity.  The universe will steer us in a certain direction when necessary, and we are just along for the ride.  We are but feathers floating on a breeze.  Fate, why fight it?

Go find a new person to connect with, and then find someone to connect them with.  Tell them how to do it. Spread the wealth, truly be nice to each other, and stop looking for relationships where there are only connections.  Find the connections, and then build the relationships for the right reasons

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