Yesterday I had lunch with Annette Moser-Wellman, who lives on Bainbridge Island and is interested in innovation, creativity, and leadership. One of the great things about Bainbridge is that there are lots of people here who are doing interesting stuff. The hard part is connecting with the people that are doing things that you might find interesting. Of course, this is a problem in the wider world, but on an island of 25,000 people, with a decidedly small town feel, it seems reasonable to expect that it might be easier than normal to make those connections. The interesting thing about my conversation with Annette, other than the content – which spanned open source, innovation, education, and the Singularity – was how it came about. Annette had read Scott Rosenberg’s Dreaming in Code and noticed that I lived on Bainbridge Island. From there, she hopped onto LinkedIn, which led to our lunch.
That morning, In anticipation of the lunch meeting, I was reflecting on the value of the various social networking sites, when Anne Zelenka twittered:
LinkedIn attracts all sorts of people who would never blog or join Facebook or use Twitter, so it adds a ton of value to online life.
A timely tweet, to be sure. The key insight, I think is that one way of measuring value of particular social networks is the groupings of people that they “reach”. My Firefox bookmarks toolbar has a growing pulldown for social networking sites: Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter, Dopplr, Upcoming, Facebook, and Pownce.
The ones that I’ve gotten actual value out of have been Flickr, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Flickr is completely an affinity group thing, so no surprises there. LinkedIn has a huge reach, as Anne points out, and perhaps because of its professional billing, has yielded several interesting meetings, and friendships. Not to mention job opportunities. There some interdisciplinary crossover, which I think is a plus. Twitter is very “hipster geek” focused, and has yielded new relationships with people like Ryan Stewart and Anne Zelenka, as well as being the impetus for the series of posts on Rich Internet Applications earlier this year.
In the end, for me it’s still all about finding your tribe. If physical book to virtual social network to real world lunch is what it takes, then I am game.