3 Reasons To Be A Social Butterfly
My friends complain that I am ‘too social’ about as much as I am “ too humblebragy.’ The latter I am trying to correct (see Things Not Posted on Facebook). The former, however, is my part of my core. I consider my vast array of friends a beautiful mosaic, each person a tile with a unique color contribution. My mosaic is eclectic and convoluted and often in costume.
Being a social butterfly has its challenges. Flitting from flower to flower can lead to overcommitted days, geolocation challenges and utter exhaustion. On Saturday my various ‘flowers’ (aka meetings, dinners, long walks on the beach) put about 100 miles on my car. However, there are also benefits to knowing a lot of people in a lot of places. As they say ‘Your Network is your Networth.’
The famous ‘network net worth’ phrase was coined by Porter Gale and resulted in a best selling book. I first heard it while working with ‘Dealmaker Media’ to produce high tech conferences like GROW and Under the Radar. When I first wanted to work there, the founder of Dealmaker’s face twisted up in apprehension. She didn’t care about my schooling, language ability, or that I once went to Space Camp. She looked at me point blank and said, “So you wanna work with me, eh? Well, who do ya know?”
Conferences depend upon well-connected individuals that can rapidly procure speakers, sign sponsorships, and get attendees. However, the importance of a network isn’t limited to events. Your social circle also dictates where you will work, what you will eat, and often whom you will marry. In fact, I cannot think of a job, diet, or boyfriend that didn’t come via my urban tribe’s recommendation.
How (the right) Network is Important-Why you Should Be a Social Butterfly!
1. You are what you eat. You are also who you surround yourself with.
If you hang out with stoners, your likelihood of watching Beavis and Butthead reruns and owning a pot plant increases. However, if you start socializing with triathletes, you’ll be probably be peer pressured to turn off the tele and go run a race or two. At 6am. (*Sigh * Sometimes I wish I had less athletic friends….)
A year ago I was frustrated. I wasn’t writing nor was I having any inspirational “deep thoughts” to write about. I was told, “If you want to be a writer, perhaps you should spread those butterfly wings and start hanging out with them.” Right.
I left the v-neck sweater Marina district for the hoodie wearing Mission and joined a weekly writing group. The other writers critique, commiserate, and help me become better. Their last critique contained the line: “Well….you’ll get a book deal but it’s still kinda Marina mainstream.” “Mainstream” was a dagger through my writer’s heart. I rewrote the entire chapter and put in references to pygmy religion. Mainstream with a twist-that’s my goal. That’s also my new network.
>>Lesson: Social Butterflies spread their wings to make new networks. (note to women readers: ‘Spreading your wings’ doesn’t have to mean ‘spreading your legs’…)
2. “An idea isn’t a single thing, it’s a swarm”
That brilliance came from Steven Johnson in his book, “Where good ideas come from”. We need our network to make us great. After all, true innovation doesn’t start with someone sitting alone in their closet rearranging their socks or waiting for some allegory apple to fall on their head. Great innovation starts with someone telling their friends about their brainchild, and growing it with their insightful thoughts and comments. In Silicon Valley a NDA (non disclosure agreement) is a joke. If you want to be successful-share!
A client recently asked me to draft an ecommerce strategy plan. Now, I know * something * about ecommerce but I bet my network knew more. I asked for assistance via a facebook status update. My inbox was filled with emails from my “smart ecomm” friends in Silicon Valley, London and New York. Without them I might have just said, “Er, have you heard of Amazon.com? Uh, do what they do.”
Socrates once said, “I am not wise.” None of us are in isolation, without questioning, or having challenges from those around us.
>>Lesson: Social butterflies cross-pollinate to get better.
3. Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon
Of course, in interconnected San Francisco it’s more like two degrees. Small degrees of separation can be awkward when you run into two past lovers at the same coffee shop and discover that they once shared the same Burning Man Camp. However, having everyone connected together can also be very beneficial. As you help your network, your network will HELP YOU. There was a really cool position at a really cool company (more on that later) that I needed to know more about. I searched on LinkedIn to see who I knew that knew them. Score! I had multiple connections a degree away. “Can you make an intro?” I asked. Bam. Internal conversation granted in 24 hours. My connections saved me the humiliation of a cold call email being funneled into the inbox black abyss of firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether you need an ‘in’ to a job or a lead on sold out concert tickets, the more people you know, the more possibilities of success you have. As they say, it’s not what you know, but who. Social is the best currency.
>>Lesson: Social butterflies get around…but that’s a good thing as it increases chances of success!
All in all, my social network makes me better. My human spider web provides entrances into people and experiences I couldn’t find on my own. I am given ideas and concepts that push my thinking. However for my network to work I must feed it. I cannot just ask and take. As I dance among my flowers, I must also provide them connections, offer advice and even grant those dreaded career path “informational interviews”. (Although I often tell young whippersnappers to pause the career path to travel the world to meet more interesting people).
Robert Kiyosaki says, “The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.” If he defined rich beyond wealth in terms of experiences, love, thoughts, and costumes, then he was spot on!