I Finally Get It – Why Social Networking is So Important

by Kevin Jones on September 29, 2009

Duh.  You would think that after all that I have read, all that I have practiced, all the classes and conference sessions and keynotes I have given, that I would have understood this point.  Yet I did not – at least fully.

There was something missing and it has been bothering me, but I never have let it stop me. (That is how I work.  I ‘feel’ what is right, even though I may not understand it fully and I go forward knowing that in the doing I will figure it out.)

Today, I get it – finally.  I have been giving a “Social Media/Networking 101″ class as an educational and evangelical tool.  In it, I explain the difference between Web 1.0, a Content Management System (CMS), Web 2.0, Social Media and Social Networking.  In my grid, the major difference between Web 1.0, Social Media and Social Networking, I point out, is the focus:  the first focuses on content, the second the people and the third, networking.

I then explain that focusing on content limits us.  It is the PEOPLE that hold the knowledge.  We can only do a Google search and find information that is already there.  But what if it is real time and the information is not there yet?  Or if the information we need is in a file folder on the desk, or on the local drive of a co-worker, or on a sticky note?  My point?  Link the people together (network) and they will share the knowledge.

Yet someone always has the concern: There is too much information out there already.  Why do we need to add more to it when we don’t use what we already have.  It is there that I talk about networking again.  Yet my answer, honestly, has never even satisfied myself.

Then this morning I read a post by Luis Suarez (a man to whom I owe much) and he NAILED it for me – again.  Luis pulled out a quote by David Weinberger:

But the real problem with the information being provided to us in our businesses is that, for all the facts and ideas, we still have no idea what we’re talking about. We don’t understand what’s going on in our business, our market, and our world.

In fact, it’d be right to say that we already *know* way too much. KM isn’t about helping us to know more. It’s about helping us to understand. Knowledge without understanding is like, well, information.”

So, how do we understand things? From the first accidental wiener roast on a prehistoric savannah, we’ve understood things by telling stories. It’s through stories that we understand how the world works.”

Why Social Networking? To tell stories.  To make sense of the information we share.  To put it in context.  THAT is the value of Social Networking.  So many people dismiss the need to network in this way, yet again we see how critical it really is!

He also adds in this video, which only has 228 views.  It is so simply explained that it should have been viewed 100x more.

In this story, the first two scenarios, the person learned valuable information.  In the last scenario, he learned what to do with the valuable information, which is more valuable than all the preceding information put together!

It is almost a no-brainer – something I should have put together a long time ago and should have been able to explain.  I have danced around this explanation for a long time, but never quite nailing it.  Yet, as every human being on this small little planet, I am still learning.  And now that thing that has bothered me, because it was incomplete, bothers me no more.

Now I feel like I can present a rock solid argument if anyone tries to minimize the value of social networking in their organization.

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