Some time back, I bit the bullet and joined one of those social networks. This particular one is focused on business relationships. I have had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people, identify a few career possibilities, and have been inundated with every “independent, take control of your life, and make a fortune in the process” pitch out there!
This networking site allows you to “connect” with other members. The concept is that over time you will build a virtual web of associates who can then introduce you to millions of other members within their respective networks. At last count, I had approximately 3,300 of these connections. Not being one for anonymity, I try to send a note to my entire Rolodex of “cyber friends” at least quarterly. The message usually asks how they are doing and also serves to give each of them an update on my writing endeavors.
This networking site also gives you the opportunity to join groups. They are typically formed around a theme and membership rolls can range from a handful of people to thousands of individuals. Needless to say, I have joined the maximum fifty groups allowed, most of which revolve around writing, executive leadership, and healthcare.
Recently, I thought it would be interesting to conduct a bold social experiment using the members of the groups I belong to. I issued a posting in all of the fifty groups that I belong to. I challenged the participants to “connect” with me. My goal was to have 10,000 new connections within the space of a week. It is now precisely 168 hours since I posted my requests and the results have been astounding!
Like any sound scientific experiment, the best results are derived when the subjects do not know they are part of a trial. My actual goal was not to collect 10,000 new connections. I could care less how connected I am; and it has been a long time since I have allowed things like numbers or popularity to define who I am! Instead, I was curious to see what types of responses I would receive. Believe me, I received responses alright!
A small number of people actually responded to the challenge and connected with me. Some did so blindly and others actually included a brief message of introduction. During the one week period, the number of connection invitations in my mailbox was about the same as I typically receive, in spite of my challenge.
The vast majority of the advertised 40,000 collective members within my groups simply ignored my posting or just did not see it. It is easy to overlook any single posting, given the volume of messages sent out every day. I did, however, create a response of another kind.
Some two hundred plus individuals made comments on my postings across the fifty groups. I was lambasted by most for the audacity of my challenge. I was labeled as somebody who was insecure and needed a large number of connections to feel any self-worth. I was questioned about my sense of loyalty to my group of already existing connections. My value system was dragged into the spotlight, with questions about my ethics and integrity. Finally, there was a select group that thought I was the head of an evil marketing empire, out to connect with them so that I could spam them for all eternity. I come out of a professional marketing background. Believe me when I say that if I wanted all of your contact information, I would already have it!
This networking website has another feature that I truly enjoy. It lets you know how many members have visited your online profile. I average about 150 visitors per week. During the seven days of my faked challenge, I received 127 visitors to my profile. If any of my over 200 critics had bothered to learn more about me, my profile visits surely would have been in excess of 300! Had any of these self-proclaimed judges of my character, and my worth as a human being, even bothered to visit my profile; they would have learned that who I am is not in keeping with the challenge I set forth.
The results of the experiment are in; people are quick to judge a stranger with no effort to learn anything about them! Not to sound arrogant by any means, but it confirmed my original hypothesis. So, how quick are you to judge a person’s intentions when you do not know a single thing about them? Do you bother to learn anything about the stranger standing in front of you, before you decide they are somehow inferior to you?
Perhaps today is the day for you to conduct your very own bold social experiment!