Social networking is the current big technology buzz. Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter encourage their members to update their friends and colleagues with “what they’re doing” on a seemingly constant basis.
I must admit I have an inherent problem with this. I can’t get over the question of “Who cares what I’m doing right now?” No one cares that “I’m writing my first blog” right now; or “I’m at the grocery store right now looking for velveeta cheese to make queso – why do they always move the velveeta?”
While I can’t get beyond this challenge with so called social networking sites, I have another beef to share. Why do we call these online communities “social networks?” Is the face to face networking that so many of us have experienced in our lives and business careers not also “social?”
Now that my biases are clear, let me get to the point: Associations are the original “social networks”.
Associations provide the forum for people (since at least the colonial times in the United States) with common interests or in common professions to get together (whether in person, online or some other way) to share ideas, debate issues and most importantly arrive at consensus.
Consensus is the “What are WE doing.” It is the most important result of social networking.
I think online communities used for networking are wonderful. I just think we need to recognize they are one more tool for associations to use to accomplish their goals. Further, for these online communities to become a truly valuable tool for associations, they need to discourage people from thinking about the “I” and get them thinking about “WE”.