Connection as currency

A coworker shared a LinkedIn function that creates a graphical map of your contacts.  I created my own and marveled at the pretty colors and curving lines.  Other than looking like a new and highly personal art form, what did it mean?

Truth be told, I’m still not entirely sure.  Yet I keep looking at it as though it hangs at Tate Modern or the Getty.  Maybe what fascinates me is the idea that I can have a visual on the entirety of my professional life’s relationships.  My investment portfolio.  As I grow older, I’m progressively more aware that these contacts are the result of a significant investment of time and energy between people that has become its own form of currency.  The ability to help someone find a job, gain a reference, and ask an important question of someone you know well has a very high value.

There’s an argument for doing the same (and for the ROI) at the enterprise level made in an article “Social enterprise moves closer to reality” published a while back.

There’s also recent arguments for the dark side of social networks as an illusion of humor, kindness, intellect, etc.

The opposite is also true

If this is a form of currency, then not making and maintaining those relationships is to be poor in network.  As the World gains an ability to connect with each passing moment, to be network poor can go further and become a liability (a debt and the opposite of having currency).  I’m not claiming this wealth can be measured on Facebook or LinkedIn, but it has to be found somewhere, even if in the aging Rolodex.  I am saying is that it is becoming gradually more important and definitely more measurable.  And now visual.

Technology is making it possible and valuable to create and maintain an enormous level of relationship wealth.  Are you taking advantage of it?


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Categories: Future of work, Social / Collaboration

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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9 Comments on “Connection as currency”

  1. Dencie Mascarenas
    May 6, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    I just tried this today after seeing your blog and love the idea of getting a visual insight of what defines you and how life experiences have evolved or expanded over time. Thanks for sharing and this really helps define where to focus your career path or passion based on interests, links and contacts. Keep up the great posts!

  2. May 6, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    The Rolodex was a catalog of ‘references’ to people in your network. Each entry had a unique identifier that was a combination of name, number and possible email. You then had to go to another ‘application’ to actually make contact with that person.

    In the same way traditional process models are a catalog of the activities and supporting information. When the user follows the process and sees there is a document template required they must take the reference number and then search for that document in another application.

    An End User focused BPM platform should show the user what the activities are and if they require a document template, or need to ask a question of the owner/author, the system should link directly to that item/person. No need for unique reference numbers that tell you which floor the filing cabinet is on or which office they sit in.

    • May 6, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      Well said, Craig. If all of this connectivity has to take place over many channels and platforms, it is a time and energy sink. Facebook and LinkedIn work for so many people because it consolidates so many things into one place. The killer apps of the future must do this, too.

  3. Rickey
    May 6, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    This post is more about me wanting to understand BPM. We don’t really use the term BPM in education, but I like the concept if I understand it correctly. I do not think in terms of systems and processes naturally, but I do use systems and processes. Simply put, my academic goals for my students are to master the standards and conquer the the assessments that measure their achievement. It always starts out as a mystery. I experiement with all kinds of approaches and strategies. Some work and some don’t. After a while I know what works with each student. For the most part the mystery is solved and I can begin to follow a process (BPM?). This doesn’t last long because as my students master skills and standards they become more sophisticated and the BPM I have in place is no longer effective and a new mystery emerges. My favorite part is the mystery.

  4. Mario Garcia
    May 10, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    Hi Chris! Thank you for this post, I had to leave the map be constructed in the background and emailed to me later on since the screen said that I have a very complex network. Also thank you for the article, I also enrolled in the smarterplanet website which seems interesting.

    • May 10, 2011 at 6:57 am #

      @Mario, I had the same response during the workday, but it ran with no problem, in seconds, at 10pm Pacific. I would try doing it at a slower time for LinkedIn’s servers.

    • May 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

      Mario, try doing this at night when their servers slow down. I had the same problem at 3pm, but it worked in seconds at 10pm.


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