It shouldn’t be ‘What are you doing?” it should be ‘What are WE Doing?’

By |Published On: January 7, 2010|

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”.


  1. bremercommunications January 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    I like what you say here, Rick. I, too, am afraid of the “cocooning” that comes with online social networking. I will always prefer the face-to-face interaction I get at meetings – and I think it’s more productive in the long run. I’m going to pass along your point about consensus to my colleagues. I think having that as a goal could give our online networking more focus.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Rick.

    ~ J

  2. Jeff Risley January 11, 2010 at 2:58 am - Reply

    Welcome to the blogosphere, Rick! Your voice is not only wanted, it’s needed. Some comments:

    1. Thanks for publishing my article in your Association Leader newsletter.
    2. I really like your new Web site design. It’s clean, easy to navigate and easy to read. Well done. I assume you guys did it in house?
    3. I think you’re right — Associations are the original social networks. All the way back to the Guilds, in fact. But associations should beware — the next generation of joiners are necessarily wired like the current members (excuse the pun). They don’t need as much face-to-face time to get to consensus. I think associations are in a perfect place to be both the offline AND online social networks for members, IMHO.

    Glad you started the blog. Look forward to reading more.


    • rickchurchcms January 11, 2010 at 6:43 am - Reply

      Jeff, thanks for the comments. I hope this blog can become a valuable dialog for association leaders.

      I agree associations need to be aware of how to attract future generations. I think you meant to say the next generation is NOT wired like current members.

      However, I would add that the next generation are not necessarily “joiners” – but that’s for another blog.

  3. Bart Bettiga February 25, 2010 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Rick, I could not agree with you more on this issue. The true value of an Association lies with getting your members actively involved. Once they begin to network with their peers from around the country, they are hooked and the true value begins. However, I will say that I do use Social Networking to create an awareness of the bigger picture and this at times has been effective in getting people to contact me for further explanation. As you say, Social Networking is a tool for us, but it is definitely not a cure for face to face networking. This is where the real value still is.

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