Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Rise of Anti-Social Networking?

Are the so-called 'Social Networks' taking over our lives? According to new research, 6% of 10,500 respondents to a survey spend more time each month networking online than meeting with family and friends! The 'hardcore' respondents are currently spending more than 10 hours a week networking online.

This figure isn't surprising and is only going to grow. Consider that the survey, carried out by uSwitch.com, was among broadband users. 6% is perhaps still a low number of people who have easy access to the internet to be 'high users'. And anyone who has got their teeth into Facebook recently will know how sticky the site can be.

The growth of social networks, and I include business sites such as Linked-In and Ecademy within the genre, is at the very start. It may seem hard to believe to readers of this blog but there are still a lot of people who still haven't heard of Facebook, let along been Poked on it!

More and more networks are starting, a number of them targeting particular communities. As the social networks become more focused on particular communities, people will become more drawn to participate in the network relevant to their interests. And the number of people spending more than 10 hours a week online will grow further.

What does this mean for a networker? Well, obviously it provides more opportunities to raise your profile and expand your network, both socially and for business. I have found Facebook to be a fantastic tool to keep in touch with friends I only see very rarely, and also to get to know better people I have met through business.

It is so important, though, that you use the networks as a tool to spark and revitalise relationships, not to replace meeting people in person. As one person said to me recently, 'the money is still in the face to face meetings'. I believe that you can only get to truly know, like and trust people when you see them in person, as often as you can.

Used correctly, the online communities can be great social tools. I'd hate, however, to see them replace meeting people in the flesh.

*The uSwitch findings were based on a survey of 10,513 adults in Britain carried out by YouGov in May.

2 comments:

  1. Great insight. I believe a good combination of offline and online networking is important for establishing and maintaining relationships. I agree that face to face interaction should not be lost. However, you can still effectively communicate with some people only through online channels.

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  2. I agree with Jason (hi Jason), but as a Baby Boomer, I find the face to face so much better. I don't refer people that I meet on the internet to other people that may need their services. Reputation is SO important in the relationship networking world.
    As the Pay It Forward Relationship Networker, being face-to-face is the only way to read body language and assess what type of impression these professionals will make on people I refer them to.
    I use linked-in, xing, facebook and my space for social networking. (I also use it for other reasons that only a mother should know about).

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