Cast A Smaller Net

When I first started building whatever the hell it is I’ve been doing here for the past few years, I went about things the wrong way. As Yuvi puts it in in his video, I put myself in a “hard core, agenda oriented, uncomfortable, terrifying, horrible networking situation.” I was chasing numbers and awkwardly trying to build a platform for myself. The thing I wasn’t doing: connecting with people. I made a few great connections, but I wasn’t building all that many meaningful relationships. I was hitting the follow or friend button far more than I was hitting the comment or reply keys. By making more connections, I was less connected than I had ever been.

I thought it was my job to build stats, not relationships. I know this is dumb, but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit (mostly to myself) that the numbers mattered more than the results. Thankfully, since this is a horrible thing to do, I burned out on the experience. I stopped asking people to RT, I stopped asking people to follow me, I stopped talking about how many more followers I needed to get to the next milestone. In fact, I stopped thinking about the statistics of my relationships and instead decided to focus on the relationships. I started to “mistakenly network by staying connected with people in the realm that I care about.” I stopped chasing and started focusing on the few people I enjoyed talking with. I had longer conversations with them (some of them were even offline, I know… who knew?!) I met the people they talked to as well, and, over time, I’ve created this place where I love to go and connect with smart and amazing people who interest the hell out of me.

The less I focus on big numbers and the more I focus on the small relationships with actual humans, the more whatever this thing I’ve been building online comes to resemble something meaningful.

And by the way, if you are looking to build a meaningful relationship with someone online, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone better than Yuvi, regardless of his claims of being cowardly, terrified or even pantsless. Not only are his videos amazing, but he’s not so bad either (he also has a killer guest post coming up here on the site next week, so you might want to subscribe and stick around a bit). I feel fortunate to consider the guy a friend, which is astounding considering we’ve never met face to face… a travesty I look forward to rectifying later this year. Check out his video, visit his site, buy his book, but more importantly, say hello. It will be the best thing you do online this week.

12 Responses to Cast A Smaller Net

  1. Wow. More and more, you can boil things down so succinctly in your posts. And also with great examples of how you fail and succeed. I should’ve just recorded your blog post for my video… Also: brilliant title to this post. Thanks!

  2. I never bought into the numbers thing, They are nice. But usually there is a catch of some sort. And you are correct that relationships are what matter. As my twitter network has grown I revived an old list of the smart people I want to pay more attention to. I think there are maybe 150 to 200 on the list. I do look at my general feed but not as much. I would rather have strong bonds with those 200 of some sort than weak bonds with the whole network.

  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself Michael… I think what you described is the initiation phase for any smart newbie… and then we figure it out.  Sometime last year, honestly – after Chris Brogan’s Great Unfollow Experiment on Twitter impacted me, I started to really look at what I was trying to do.  It became apparent that most people in my stream were complete unknowns and would stay that way; I was trying to digest every ‘important’ blog out there.   I was overwhelmed and exhausted.

    So I went through all of my streams and cleaned them up. I narrowed the blogs I allow into my inbox down to 5 (yep, you’re in there:)  … and now I digest what I can.  I have built some fantastic relationships that are turning into real life friendships and professional partners.  And I don’t feel like a frantic rabbit trying to keep up. Thanks for the post.

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