Friday 25 November 2011

Are we allowing social media to ruin our real relationships?

I estimate the total number of different people that I am connected to online is more than 3000 people. I am a minnow of course. I can’t imagine life for those with more than a million twitter followers!

The key for me is that I have real relationships with about 150 people. Significantly Robin Dunbar’s number has been the constant for me pre and post social media.

The main value of having a significant social media presence for me is five-fold:

1) We do meet people online we probably wouldn’t have met otherwise who become colleagues, collaborators and friends. An example: Six out of the seven members of the Leadership Roundtable of Differencemakers Community, which I founded, I first met online. Three of them I am still to meet in person.

2) We can enhance our reputation by consistent posting of high-quality content in the endless number of places to post that are available.

3) We can use technology such as skype and gotomeetings to strengthen and grow relationships and accomplish important tasks.

4) We can learn many things of value to our personal and business lives through online discussions, webinars, and other forums. Equally we can contribute much to others in the same ways.

5) Collaboration is much easier, more efficient and effective because of social media and the cloud.

My online to in-person ratio is about 5:1 i.e. 5 hours online:1 hour in-person. It was once 20:1 as I allowed myself to be almost completely consumed. Of course my real relationships suffered. I am working on getting my ratio to 3:1.

As mentioned in my previous post and slideshare:
“Your Network is who you like, know and trust.
Your Reputation depends on who likes, knows, and trusts you.
Your Business growth depends on who likes, knows and trusts you and who is prepared to take you to who likes, knows, and trusts them.”

I can’t speak for you of course, for me I don’t take anyone to meet someone who likes, knows, and trusts me unless I am certain of their value to such a person, and I can’t be certain of someone else’s value until I have a real relationship with them.

In my view real relationships are primarily built in person and only online when we can see people and get a true sense of who they are. Relationships can be enhanced and grown online but not usually built.

I have requests from people I have never met or seen or witnessed their work asking me for recommendations and referrals. How could I have integrity and do that? I couldn’t.

Are we allowing social media to ruin our real relationships?

My answer is yes when the following exist:

*Our ratio of online to in-person is out of harmony for us
*Our focus is on getting rather than giving
*We email or text or post when a call or visit would better enhance the relationship/s
*We say things online we wouldn’t say in person
*Our focus is on what’s happening on our so-called smart phones when we are in-person with other people
*We pay more attention to what people are saying online than we do in person
*Online work and play has become more important than in-person work and play
*We can’t switch-off our phones or leave them at home occasionally
*We post, text or email information about other people we haven’t run past them
*We are paying more attention to what people are saying about us online than they are in-person
*We notice our communication skills and ability to have meaningful conversations in-person have waned
*We have stopped or reduced saying in person Please, Thank You, I love you.
*The amount of quality in-person, without technology time we spend with family, friends and colleagues is reduced

Would you add any?
And what will you do today to ensure to stop allowing social media to ruin your real relationships?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Author of Changing What's Normal
I partner with people passionate about change who want to break free from the status quo and accelerate turning possibility into reality

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