Back in 1994, I was asked to lead a team to create a content-rich Internet Service Provider for the Consumers' Association. The service - Which? Online - was launched in time, within budget on 4th November 1996.
One of the most important aspects of the service was a way for consumers to link up with each other, share consumer tips, and join together to form "buying groups" to buy in bulk (even cars) and negotiate better deals. Somewhat to our surprise, it worked. Looking back on it 13 years later, it's clear we had created a rudimentary social network.
What made it work? People taking action. That's the only thing that ever works, in my opinion.
Alas, far too many people just "get involved" in social networks. They build up huge lists of followers and contacts. They then start promoting their products and services like mad. Then something amazing happens: nothing. That's because they were social notworking.
Trying to sell to people who don't know you, taking before you give, or sitting back thinking abundant thoughts won't work. That's social notworking.
No-one will pay for your expertise unless you demonstrate it. You have to build a reputation before you can sell anything. You have to give more than you expect to receive. You have to offer your own help, thoughts and advice. That's social networking.
So, are you a social networker or a social notworker?