Connecting Creates Value

Online presence paves the way to real-life interactions. Mixing online and offline aspects provides a much more potent repertoire for structuring interactions, than just online or just offline on their own can provide.

Let me tell you a story. Earlier this month, I traveled to a conference where I knew nobody, and nobody knew me. Now, I'm collaborating with an international team to benchmark best practices, and I'm in contact with thought leaders in the intranet industry. What happened?

Social networking, is what happened.

The fact that I was even aware of the IntraTeam 2010 conference on intranet and enterprise 2.0, was thanks to LinkedIn.

First day at the event, I was unable to get into contact with anybody at all. Determined to make this event a success anyway, I frequently summarized conference presentations on Twitter. I spent the evening in my hotel room creating an extended summary on my blog about the wonderful presentations I'd seen.

Before turning off my laptop, last thing I did was publish a tweet that pointed people to my blog entry.

#Intranet best practices presented at IntraTeam #IE10 event - blog post summarizing 4 of today's presentations http://bit.ly/96YJ2p

Little did I know, how much impact that would have. That night, my tweet got retweeted, and the retweets got retweeted as well.

A surprising turn of events

Next day, some amazing stuff started happening. During the presentations, I exchanged messages with Stephan Schillerwein, who had been presenting the day before. At coffee break, I asked the guy next to me how he liked the conference. He looked at me kind of funny. "You're Guido, right?". Turns out I had been sitting next to Stephan all morning, without knowing it. He recognized me from my profile picture. That sparked an interesting conversation.

Later, I joined Stephan at lunch and found myself sitting next to Andrew Wright, who runs the Worldwide Intranet Challenge together with Stephan. He invited me to join the team and represent the Worldwide Intranet Challenge in The Netherlands. I jumped to the opportunity.

After that, one thing led to another. I met a lot of interesting people that day! Most had seen my blog post and tweets, and recognized me from my profile picture. Kurt Kragh Sørensen, the conference organizer, asked me to do a short statement on video. Which he then put on Youtube.

The follow-up

So, what did all of this lead to?

The Worldwide Intranet Challenge now has a presence in The Netherlands, and Andrew has made me a manager of the LinkedIn group for the WIC. These activities are supported by a dedicated web site, www.intranet-challenge.nl. The combination of channels provides a valuable resource for intranet professionals in The Netherlands, and puts me in a position to develop further contacts in the industry.

I've met and talked with several of the world's leading thinkers on intranet, deepening my understanding of this business and creating contacts that may lead to future opportunities.

Give it away

It's the mixture of online (LinkedIn/Twitter/blog) and real-life (conference) interactions, that truly creates great value by opening up new connections to real people.

Online presence paves the way to real-life interactions. Real person-to-person contacts can be amplified and maintained over great distance, via online tools. Mixing online and offline aspects provides a much more potent repertoire for structuring interactions, than just online or just offline on their own can provide.

Key to opening up this space of new opportunities, is that your mindset has to be centered on giving, rather than taking. It's the giving that gets you visibility and credibility. You can't force those outcomes, so you have to be willing to truly give, regardless of what will follow. Only then will exceptional opportunities present themselves. Björk has a great lyric about that:

I can decide, what I give
But it's not up to me, what I get given
It's not up to you
Well, it never really was.
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