MAD Perspectives Blog

 The Power of Connectivity

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We all live and work in an increasingly connected world.  Our smartphones and tablets connect us to information and people in ways that barely allow us any quiet time.  How do we measure the value of this connectedness?  Is there value to having thousands of Twitter followers, Facebook fans or LinkedIn connections?  Obviously the social media community believes in the power of connectivity, but do businesses? 

Connectivity is an interesting topic.  As humans we like to be connected to family, friends and colleagues.  We have more options than even to stay in contact.  I use Facebook to keep up with friends who scattered around the globe.  I use LinkedIn to manage my network of business colleagues.  Both Twitter and LinkedIn are my conduits for promoting my blog, sharing thoughts on current events and listening to what others are saying as it relates to business.  In addition, I still email (yes, i understand it may be considered a dying technology).  Why do I use all of these tools?  Because I want to be connected.

I want to learn from others.  I want to understand what is interesting to my colleagues.  I want to gain insights into new technologies.  I want to share my knowledge.  Anyone who follows my blog or my business, knows that I am a huge fan of LinkedIn.  I did not become an advocate until I had time to realize the power of the connectivity it provides.  While i was still employed by corporate America, it was simply a tool to augment or replace my rolodex.    Since leaving the corporate world, I'm exposed to a wider set of contacts.  I thought i had a good network working at HP.  It included fellow employees and business partners.  Since leaving HP, i have added contacts from a wider range of industries and roles.

Last year I was seeking information about a topic I had been invited to investigate for a client.  It was a topic where I only had high level knowledge.  I used LinkedIn Groups to post a question with hopes of getting more in depth information.  Not only did I get greater insight, I received invites for phone conversations and a face to face meeting, which resulted in a fantastic white board session.  The power of the connectivity provided by LinkedIn, in this case, was phenomenal and positioned me for greater success in my project.

I've used LinkedIn, again, recently to request introductions from my connections to some of their connections. I was seeking access to decision makers to discuss their needs and priorities around a specific topic.  Again, my colleagues responded favorably, happy to introduce me to the specific contacts I had defined.  As a result I have been able to gather a global view of this topic, again on behalf of a client.

As businesses and as individuals, social technologies are enabling us to connect more quickly and effectively. We've all networked on behalf of business in the past.  I remember scrolling through the rolodex to find the name of the contact who knew the guy who could help me close a deal.  Social technologies reduce the manual effort and time to achieve connectivity.  So, is this connectivity meaningful?  I would argue, YES it is!

Even a casual connection can lead to meaningful business.  It's all about staying in touch and reinforcing the value of the connection.  Businesses using social media should remember this.  Social networking is not just about pushing your content out via another channel.  it is about identifying the value your customers seek from you - and then providing that value.  Customer support is an excellent example.  Your customers seek answers to frequently and infrequently asked questions.  Social conversations via all of the big networks can help you understand the their needs, get ahead of critical issues and recognized trends that may impact product sales.

Connectivity is about more than the actual connection.  it's about the conversation.  It's about providing and receiving value.  This is where the power emerges.  I don't mean power from a control perspective, I mean power to move forward, make a difference, achieve a goal.  Think about the power of your connections.  What value do you see in them?

What's your perspective?