A Guest Post by Valerie Simon
There’s a little song I learned back in Girl Scouts (yes, I was a girl scout… rocked the cookie sales, horrid when it came to crafts!). Make new friends, but keep the old. One is sliver and the other gold.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that little song lately. Participating in social media has allowed me to build new relationships at an accelerated pace. And the convenience of communicating wherever and whenever helped maintain relationships that might have otherwise fallen by the wayside.
But what are the limits to the number of people with whom one can maintain a stable social relationship? Social media has thrown a new wrench in the work of anthropologists such as Robin Dunbar and Peter Killworth who have developed formulas to address this question. I hold the term relationship in high regard, and while there is certainly a wide gamut of feasible relationships, those relationships of value require an investment of limited resources- time and money.
So what can we do to assure that we receive the greatest return on our investment? What steps can we take to assure that the relationships we build remain strong connections? One of the most valuable lessons I have learned, is the amazing power of community in developing relationships. Whether you are a part of a Twitter chat, an active member of a LinkedIn group or Ning network, blog or subscribe and comment on a favorite blog, participation in a community is an opportunity to engage with a larger group. While one on one conversation is limited, by listening and sharing within a community you can create regular and consistent communication with greater numbers.
You have no doubt made many new relationships as a result of your own participation in social media. Which relationships stick? Where will those relationships be in 5 years? And perhaps most importantly, what steps are you taking to make sure that the relationships you build today continue to have meaning tomorrow?
Valerie Merahn Simon serves as a Senior Vice President at BurrellesLuce media monitoring and measurement, and writes a national public relations column for examiner.com. She is also co-founder and host of #PRStudChat, the monthly twitter chat between PR professionals and students moderated by Deirdre Breakenridge. Valerie can be found on Twitter or LinkedIn