I could go on and on for hours about how people abuse relationships because I am sooo passionate about the topic. Within Internet Marketing, I have developed some solid relationships with and would work with them, partner with them, and/or hang out with them at the drop of a dime. The problem here is that there are people that don't understand there is big difference between someone that is a contact vs. someone that you have established a relationship with and the value of that relationship.
Relationships versus Contacts: Quality is the key
I'm a networking machine and I like to meet people, that's just how I am built. I look for ways that I can help people and/or look for ways that we can help each other out. There are a variety of ways to do this, whether through learning and education, partnerships, or referrals. That said, I need to establish relationships with the people that I meet. Granted, I do meet a lot of people and I do have a contact list, but, I am not here to win a "popularity" contest, have a large amount of Twitter followers, or friends on Facebook. To me, that is not what this is all about, there is more to it than sheer numbers.
The real value is in the quality of the relationship and not the quantity of contacts.
Building up a lot of followers on Twitter or a huge friends list on Facebook is fine, do it if you have to, but realize that you are really just playing a popularity game and not creating opportunities or relationships, especially if your goal is solely in the numbers. I have added a ton of people in the past and then groomed/weeded people in/out of my friends list on Social Platforms and in life, but, the ones that I keep are great relationships and partnerships that have thrived.
The people that I have established relationships with have led to great career opportunities, partnerships, knowledge, and most importantly, long lasting friendships. This is not something that you will get by only going for the quantity of contacts and trying to win some sort of popularity contest or ego driven "grader" application.
Relationship & Perception Killers: Social Capital, Trading up & Burning Bridges
As I mentioned above, there is a group of people that are all about ego stroking and popularity contests, it is an inevitable fact of life. With that comes interesting attempts at leveraging "Social Capital" or "Trading up" without the care of burning a bridge. I've run into this many times in my career where I have either been used for access to the relationships I have created, to provide knowledge to the individual, or in a partnership to create opportunity.
I bring this up because I am starting to see more and more individuals like this sprouting up within the Internet Marketing, Social Media, and Technology communities. These people go to events, parties, and participate in Social Media sites for the sole purpose of using them for only personal gain, ego stroking, or popularity. The key takeaway is that the individual does not take value in the relationship built, thus trading up and burning a bridge.
People like this have no problem "trading up" for new contacts for friendships because they have not vested anything into the current ones they have. They saw a value that could be used or leveraged, took advantage of this, and now have no reason not to burn the bridge that they have created. I can't and never will understand this form of deception and personally am appalled by it.
Also, as it related to being popular, there really doesn't leave much time for actually achieving any goals and/or providing value within the industry you are in. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't have fun and enjoy life, but there is a time and place for everything. At the end of the day, in my opinion, it is about what you do and the relationships you've created and not how popular you are.
This isn't only related to partying and the offline social scene as well. Think of the time you spend on Twitter and Facebook. If you are spending enormous amounts of time on Social Platforms like these without actually thinking of or caring about the actual value within it, you are wasting away your days. Social Media is about the conversation, but that doesn't mean to over do it, think of it like parties and events, if you are over doing it, when are you actually going to get anything done.
Lets put this to the test in the case of a startup. I was having this conversation with someone I respect in the technology industry and it came up. If the owner/founders of a startup are spending ridiculous amounts of time on partying, drinking, only building social capital, and/or rotting away the days on Facebook, it is going to be very hard for your startup to prove value or change the perception of your worth. Imagine the stakeholders and/or people that are funding your business, won't they be questioning the decision making? Assume you have done a "friends and family round" of raising capital, how do you think that bridge is going to hold up if you haven't treated it with respect or as a relationship that you care about.
Remember, it is one thing to have fun and enjoy life, but, it's another to be attempting to win a popularity contest. When it comes down to it, using your time wisely, being efficient, and getting shit done is the most important thing in life, bottom line. (Remember, these are my opinions, you can agree and/or disagree as you wish.)
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