Template for Building a Small Powerful Network

networkThis post is somewhat inspired by a thought Jeff Pulver tossed out as an aside at his Social Media Jungle prototype in Long Island a few weeks ago. Hat tip to you, Jeff.

Jeff Pulver said this: “We’re making our own dial tone.” In such a typical Jeff Pulver way, he tossed out a little idea that had been bouncing around his head, but that he hasn’t rolled into any particular context yet, so I’m going to run with it. I’ve got an idea that came to me tonight about Twitter (amongst other social networks), and I’m going to share it with you: take that dial tone idea and build your own network. We’re sitting on something because we’re still in the “gee whiz” mode. Let me explain.

Where We Falter – Solo Efforts Versus Scale

I asked Twitter tonight about what people were working on for goals. Several people had remarkably similar goals, including, sadly, the fact that several of them were looking for work. 2008 is the easy year compared to what 2009 is going to be. I saw the same thing passing through everyone’s stream, and I saw connectivity that would be missed. And that’s when it stuck me. I tweeted this:

Do you realize there are thousands of great minds all plugged into the same conversation who could help each other with your goals? Activate

The trick is this- don’t make me or anyone the hub. Lead. Find your groups. Reach out. Set group goals. Execute. Move to a new group. Fluid.

You see, you’re all out there. You’ve got goals, you’ve got needs, you’ve got sources of information, and you have the tools to connect it all. You’ve got every piece of a network except for the directors.

So, what if you had the templates to building a small but powerful network? Here’s my starting ideas on this. I’ll talk in somewhat technical terms, but I promise this has everything to do with the human elements. I hope it sparks something in you. More so, I hope you run with it.

Build a Small Powerful Network

  1. First, think about your goals in 2009. Build the network with two purposes on mind: how you can achieve your goals, and how you can help others achieve theirs.
  2. You need authentication in a network. Start with a blog as a home base. Make it such that your about page tells people lots about you.
  3. It doesn’t hurt to have a picture of YOU on the blog, as this will deal with building a trusted network.
  4. Start a Google Doc spreadsheet with the following fields: name, twitter ID, cell, capabilities, notes. Think of this as your routing table, your database of records of where resources reside.
  5. Ask some probing questions on Twitter. If no one responds, ask again. See if there’s interest out there. What you’re doing at this point is sending out a signal that you’re looking for resources. (Like a computer, only you’re human.)
  6. Use Twitter Search to find some like-minded people. Work at this. Try all different kinds of queries until you find the right response.
  7. Send @ messages to these types of people. Ask them if they want to talk about collaborating.
  8. Invite them to your document, if you want. Let them share the resources. Get them into the mix.
  9. From here, collaborate. Figure out how you can helpful. Understand each other’s needs, and share the resources. Try to build your goals and businesses together.

It’s not exactly simple. But to me, it’s all there. You build the mechanisms (very simple ones), and you go after the goals together. You can feed it. You can encourage the edge points of the network (the other people) to be their own hub. You can build out more capabilities.

Scribbles from The Sidebar

What if you thought of these small networks in terms of games? Games have goals. They have a point. What if you set goals and points to these networks? What if you went at this network-building and empowerment as something very active, instead of using tools like Twitter as another place to chat?

In 2009, you need your networks. It is not a solo act. I need mine, too. And I plan to do exactly what I’ve laid out here.

Does it make sense? Can you see this as a template for how you might start getting your goals met for 2009? Are you planning to ally and make new relationships? What do you think?

Photo credit, Jared

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  • http://twitter.com/Ollie_R Oliver

    Great post. Twitter’s search tool is awesome.. you might also want to look into FriendFeed. It’s a huge searchable database of social buzz, discussions and groups. Personally, I think this is the way to go. Loners will eventually be left behind and forgotten, like in the “real world”.

  • http://www.morecaffeineplease.com Greg Digneo

    Chris,

    As someone just starting, this is completely invaluable. Thanks for the great post!

  • http://www.morecaffeineplease.com Greg Digneo

    Chris,

    As someone just starting, this is completely invaluable. Thanks for the great post!

  • http://www.twitter.com/toddlucier @toddlucier

    The web is just a bunch of tools to communicate. That’s it. No magic.
    What you decide to do with it, that’s the magic.
    If you could communicate value to your ideal client, what would you say?
    If you could respond to the needs of your ideal client, what would you hear?
    if you could be both awesome at something and fill a need for someone else, how would your business relationship evolve.

    Stop trying to please 1000 people and communicate your authentic value to 5 people that you have an affinity with by listening and understanding their needs, and matching your gifts.

    In a recent podcast with you Chris, we chatted about the need to bridge the digital divide. Here are thousands of people who get it. Have high speed internet and know how to communicate with it.
    On the other side of the divide are hundreds of thousands of people who don’t get it!

    Why might they want to get it, and how could you help them?

    Dollars will follow.

    cheers,
    @toddlucier

  • http://www.twitter.com/toddlucier @toddlucier

    The web is just a bunch of tools to communicate. That’s it. No magic.
    What you decide to do with it, that’s the magic.
    If you could communicate value to your ideal client, what would you say?
    If you could respond to the needs of your ideal client, what would you hear?
    if you could be both awesome at something and fill a need for someone else, how would your business relationship evolve.

    Stop trying to please 1000 people and communicate your authentic value to 5 people that you have an affinity with by listening and understanding their needs, and matching your gifts.

    In a recent podcast with you Chris, we chatted about the need to bridge the digital divide. Here are thousands of people who get it. Have high speed internet and know how to communicate with it.
    On the other side of the divide are hundreds of thousands of people who don’t get it!

    Why might they want to get it, and how could you help them?

    Dollars will follow.

    cheers,
    @toddlucier

  • http://openmode.ca Malcolm Bastien

    To me it looks like a lot of the succeeding steps to thinking of your 2009 goals are almost a natural extension of that step. Because when you set a focus and a purpose to your actions, you might need to realize that in order to achieve it all, not only are lifestyle changes necessary (a la new years resolution) but we need to change the way we perceive and the way we work with online networking platforms.

    Developing more meaningful relationships online, reaching out to people, helping others, and working together… It’s no secret anymore that this is the way to work these days and to accomplish your goals.

  • http://openmode.ca Malcolm Bastien

    To me it looks like a lot of the succeeding steps to thinking of your 2009 goals are almost a natural extension of that step. Because when you set a focus and a purpose to your actions, you might need to realize that in order to achieve it all, not only are lifestyle changes necessary (a la new years resolution) but we need to change the way we perceive and the way we work with online networking platforms.

    Developing more meaningful relationships online, reaching out to people, helping others, and working together… It’s no secret anymore that this is the way to work these days and to accomplish your goals.

  • http://www.writingroads.com/blog Julie Roads

    Hey Chris – this very thing happened to me twice this weekend – and will culminate in a collaborative ebook and a collaborative teleseminar. I agree that there is so much opportunity – especially on Twitter. Keep your eyes and ears open. PURSUE. The potential is mind boggling. Thanks, as always, for all that you share.

  • http://www.writingroads.com/blog Julie Roads

    Hey Chris – this very thing happened to me twice this weekend – and will culminate in a collaborative ebook and a collaborative teleseminar. I agree that there is so much opportunity – especially on Twitter. Keep your eyes and ears open. PURSUE. The potential is mind boggling. Thanks, as always, for all that you share.

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  • http://donotreadthisblogunless.blogspot.com/ Nicholas Chase

    Hi Chris,

    Hey thanks for the post!

    That is a great idea to connect the community for assisting each other before the ‘turnaround’. I much prefer the long-view of our current situation, ie “we have been here before and survived’ mentality. The mainstream media would have us believe that everyone is losing their jobs, but in actuality, many segments are still hiring!

    How about sharing our skills with the twitter-verse, who may have a position open at their company that would be ideal for a person with your skills?

    The power of the tweet is awesome and easy!

    Respectfully,

    Nicholas Chase – ‘the video guy’ at BlogWorld Expo

  • http://donotreadthisblogunless.blogspot.com/ Nicholas Chase

    Hi Chris,

    Hey thanks for the post!

    That is a great idea to connect the community for assisting each other before the ‘turnaround’. I much prefer the long-view of our current situation, ie “we have been here before and survived’ mentality. The mainstream media would have us believe that everyone is losing their jobs, but in actuality, many segments are still hiring!

    How about sharing our skills with the twitter-verse, who may have a position open at their company that would be ideal for a person with your skills?

    The power of the tweet is awesome and easy!

    Respectfully,

    Nicholas Chase – ‘the video guy’ at BlogWorld Expo

  • http://www.tonytannouri.com Andrea Tannouri

    This post is huge for me. Thank you so much for sharing! I forwarded it to my husband as I am new on twitter and was trying to explain the power of it to him this morning (although it was 5am and he didn’t have his coffee yet). I showed him a few youtube vids. I am trying to figure out how it could apply to our industry (real estate and mortgage) in this time of troubles.

  • http://www.tonytannouri.com Andrea Tannouri

    This post is huge for me. Thank you so much for sharing! I forwarded it to my husband as I am new on twitter and was trying to explain the power of it to him this morning (although it was 5am and he didn’t have his coffee yet). I showed him a few youtube vids. I am trying to figure out how it could apply to our industry (real estate and mortgage) in this time of troubles.

  • Woody Lewis

    Excellent post, Chris. I’m already following you and subscribe to your feed. I’ve been in the Web space since its commercial beginning in late ’94, seen a lot of things, was on the edge for the dot-com explosion, survived it, etc. The energy around social networking, and in particular the recent Twitter surge, reminds me of the good old days, except the tools are so much more sophisticated. Your template will become a best practice and a case study for many.

    All best,

    Woody Lewis

  • Woody Lewis

    Excellent post, Chris. I’m already following you and subscribe to your feed. I’ve been in the Web space since its commercial beginning in late ’94, seen a lot of things, was on the edge for the dot-com explosion, survived it, etc. The energy around social networking, and in particular the recent Twitter surge, reminds me of the good old days, except the tools are so much more sophisticated. Your template will become a best practice and a case study for many.

    All best,

    Woody Lewis

  • Kevin L

    Some awesome ideas. I would love to be part of this.

  • Kevin L

    Some awesome ideas. I would love to be part of this.

  • http://www.webjam.com Yann Motte

    Great idea. Once your network starts taking shape and you need a bit more structure you can think about using http://www.webjam.com in which you can integrate your twitter and friendfeeds. It can evolve from a simple blog with these two RSS’s into it to a full fledge branded social network. Check out http://www.webjam.com/chickerino/

  • http://www.webjam.com Yann Motte

    Great idea. Once your network starts taking shape and you need a bit more structure you can think about using http://www.webjam.com in which you can integrate your twitter and friendfeeds. It can evolve from a simple blog with these two RSS’s into it to a full fledge branded social network. Check out http://www.webjam.com/chickerino/

  • http://www.fullworxnetworking.co.uk Alec

    Hi Chris

    I have been following your blog for a few months now and your Tweets for a few weeks.

    I really loved the last post on networking and this article as well.

    My business went under at the turn of spring/fall this year and, rather too late, I tried to salvage something of a network out of the remains. The outcome has grown into my new business which I hope will really take off in 2009.

    I have plans to allow members of the public membership in order that enterprise members may be able to communicate directly with them, or vice versa. Another idea that I had is to add a jobs page where members can list jobs available and jobs sought. The main platform for this will be the forums I expect, with myself, or another member of the team posting these to the main site.

    The ideas that you have set out are excellent and can only improve our plans were we to implement them, which I’m sure we will given time. Networking takes up all of my time now as it is the crux of my business. That along with most of the other admin stuff that I have to contend with.

    I hope that this is OK with you, that I add this link to my comment and apologise in advance if I am being somewhat presumptious. However my networking web-site can be found at http://www.fullworxnetworking.co.uk

    Thanks for the excellent advice, hints and tips that you give away so freely, yours is truly an excellent service.

    Forever Grateful

    Alec G Bell

  • http://www.fullworxnetworking.co.uk Alec

    Hi Chris

    I have been following your blog for a few months now and your Tweets for a few weeks.

    I really loved the last post on networking and this article as well.

    My business went under at the turn of spring/fall this year and, rather too late, I tried to salvage something of a network out of the remains. The outcome has grown into my new business which I hope will really take off in 2009.

    I have plans to allow members of the public membership in order that enterprise members may be able to communicate directly with them, or vice versa. Another idea that I had is to add a jobs page where members can list jobs available and jobs sought. The main platform for this will be the forums I expect, with myself, or another member of the team posting these to the main site.

    The ideas that you have set out are excellent and can only improve our plans were we to implement them, which I’m sure we will given time. Networking takes up all of my time now as it is the crux of my business. That along with most of the other admin stuff that I have to contend with.

    I hope that this is OK with you, that I add this link to my comment and apologise in advance if I am being somewhat presumptious. However my networking web-site can be found at http://www.fullworxnetworking.co.uk

    Thanks for the excellent advice, hints and tips that you give away so freely, yours is truly an excellent service.

    Forever Grateful

    Alec G Bell

  • http://catskillcottageseed.com Richard Reeve

    …as I catch up to what you’ve shown me so far, you pitch the next steps and just as I need them. I’ve been tasked with creating a multi-person leadership team platform across the social media space and your shared spreadsheet idea will be most useful and needed to capture a sense the value developing within the emerging network as it emerges to our team members in various locales.

  • http://catskillcottageseed.com Richard Reeve

    …as I catch up to what you’ve shown me so far, you pitch the next steps and just as I need them. I’ve been tasked with creating a multi-person leadership team platform across the social media space and your shared spreadsheet idea will be most useful and needed to capture a sense the value developing within the emerging network as it emerges to our team members in various locales.

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  • http://www.ehow.com/members/Alrady-articles.html Alrady

    I like this as it gives a formula to help track a group mindset. Basically this is done with just at replies and DM ‘s and for some people things like tweetdeck. I am even more haphazard. But what I really like about your document idea is that it is like white board or netmeeting on steroids.
    THANX

  • http://www.ehow.com/members/Alrady-articles.html Alrady

    I like this as it gives a formula to help track a group mindset. Basically this is done with just at replies and DM ‘s and for some people things like tweetdeck. I am even more haphazard. But what I really like about your document idea is that it is like white board or netmeeting on steroids.
    THANX

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  • http://honeyandlance.com Lance

    Chris, great post! I’m not exactly sure what my goals are at this point, but I think I can use this. I listened to a Seth Godin teleconference a few weeks back where he talked about his Tribes theory and this post is a great compliment to those ideas. Muchos Gracias.

  • http://honeyandlance.com Lance

    Chris, great post! I’m not exactly sure what my goals are at this point, but I think I can use this. I listened to a Seth Godin teleconference a few weeks back where he talked about his Tribes theory and this post is a great compliment to those ideas. Muchos Gracias.

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  • http://relaxnoreally.blogspot.com Shelley

    Oh, YES, this was just the nudge I needed to start putting together a directory of folks in my field (academic matchmaking, okay, college counseling) who are active in a social media kind of way.

    Yet ANOTHER project that will keep my fingers on the keyboard over the upcoming “break.”

    But too great NOT to do.

    Thanks as always for your positive, “you can do this” attitude, as well as your nuts and bolts “howto” tips.

  • http://relaxnoreally.blogspot.com Shelley

    Oh, YES, this was just the nudge I needed to start putting together a directory of folks in my field (academic matchmaking, okay, college counseling) who are active in a social media kind of way.

    Yet ANOTHER project that will keep my fingers on the keyboard over the upcoming “break.”

    But too great NOT to do.

    Thanks as always for your positive, “you can do this” attitude, as well as your nuts and bolts “howto” tips.

  • http://www.youtube.com/penatabuasnow Leo Clark

    Great post Chris! I am glad I’ve found it!
    I have just started a documentary about the Brazilian snowboarders and our story, based on Youtube for research and a blog for the interactive screenplay.
    I guess I need to add the twitter portion now ;)
    Anyway, congratulations on your idea, I believe your thoughts are in tune with how we should deal with the new reality on Planet Earth.

    Cheers,

    Leo, from Rio

  • http://www.youtube.com/penatabuasnow Leo Clark

    Great post Chris! I am glad I’ve found it!
    I have just started a documentary about the Brazilian snowboarders and our story, based on Youtube for research and a blog for the interactive screenplay.
    I guess I need to add the twitter portion now ;)
    Anyway, congratulations on your idea, I believe your thoughts are in tune with how we should deal with the new reality on Planet Earth.

    Cheers,

    Leo, from Rio

  • http://www.bilingualhireco.com David Molina

    Once again, Chris, another brilliant blog post. The suggestions, “What if you set goals and points to these networks? What if you went at this network-building and empowerment as something very active, instead of using tools like Twitter as another place to chat?” I use, off your recommendation, the search feature for Twitter.com. And, it’s marvelous. It reminds of Google.com, but only more human, more interconnected with the masses. Thoughts, ideas, concepts, recommendations all put on by “we the people.”

    Your point on, “The trick is this- don’t make me or anyone the hub. Lead. Find your groups. Reach out. Set group goals. Execute. Move to a new group. Fluid.” Exactly, don’t follow, execute, lead and be the Director.

    Cheers from Portland, Oregon
    @davidcmolina

  • http://www.bilingualhireco.com David Molina

    Once again, Chris, another brilliant blog post. The suggestions, “What if you set goals and points to these networks? What if you went at this network-building and empowerment as something very active, instead of using tools like Twitter as another place to chat?” I use, off your recommendation, the search feature for Twitter.com. And, it’s marvelous. It reminds of Google.com, but only more human, more interconnected with the masses. Thoughts, ideas, concepts, recommendations all put on by “we the people.”

    Your point on, “The trick is this- don’t make me or anyone the hub. Lead. Find your groups. Reach out. Set group goals. Execute. Move to a new group. Fluid.” Exactly, don’t follow, execute, lead and be the Director.

    Cheers from Portland, Oregon
    @davidcmolina

  • http://www.themoxiemomblog.com Wendy Merritt

    Excellent! I was just tweaking my goals list for 2009. This gives me another set of goggles with which to view my list. Thanks.

    blessings,
    Wendy
    Twitter: WendyMerritt

  • http://www.themoxiemomblog.com Wendy Merritt

    Excellent! I was just tweaking my goals list for 2009. This gives me another set of goggles with which to view my list. Thanks.

    blessings,
    Wendy
    Twitter: WendyMerritt

  • http://www.growasacoach.com claire

    Fabulous post that I have been directed to twice on twitter now! I didn’t even know about google docs so even just discovering that has been great to give me more flexibility on being able to access info on the move! I definitely connect with what you say about building connection with people – I am already having great fun and reconnecting with a few people I met in twitter in other places – phone, linked in, facebook/.CLaire

  • http://www.growasacoach.com claire

    Fabulous post that I have been directed to twice on twitter now! I didn’t even know about google docs so even just discovering that has been great to give me more flexibility on being able to access info on the move! I definitely connect with what you say about building connection with people – I am already having great fun and reconnecting with a few people I met in twitter in other places – phone, linked in, facebook/.CLaire

  • http://www.gogreeneraustralia.com/blog/ JulieG

    Thanks for this post. The analogy to a computerised network really helped me wrap my head around what I need to do for my projects next year. I might not be using Twitter overly much for it in favour of other methods, but it’s more the big-picture process that’s become clearer to me.

  • http://www.gogreeneraustralia.com/blog/ JulieG

    Thanks for this post. The analogy to a computerised network really helped me wrap my head around what I need to do for my projects next year. I might not be using Twitter overly much for it in favour of other methods, but it’s more the big-picture process that’s become clearer to me.

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  • http://allpointsinbetween.blogspot.com Brian

    Great post! I’m new to the Twitter world and in major information gathering mode so this piece was particularly helpful.

  • http://allpointsinbetween.blogspot.com Brian

    Great post! I’m new to the Twitter world and in major information gathering mode so this piece was particularly helpful.

  • http://penatabuasnow.blogspot.com/ Leo Clark

    Hi Chris,
    Just forgot to say that I found you thanks to Allen @centernetworks
    Cheers!

    Leo

  • http://penatabuasnow.blogspot.com/ Leo Clark

    Hi Chris,
    Just forgot to say that I found you thanks to Allen @centernetworks
    Cheers!

    Leo

  • http://dml.cs.byu.edu/matthewsmith Matt Smith

    Chris,

    This approach makes a lot of sense and takes us back to the fundamentals. In short, the key is developing reciprocally benefiting relationships.

    Matt

  • http://dml.cs.byu.edu/matthewsmith Matt Smith

    Chris,

    This approach makes a lot of sense and takes us back to the fundamentals. In short, the key is developing reciprocally benefiting relationships.

    Matt