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Common: Underestimating the impact of communication, community, and creativity in the digital age.

Uncommon: From part 1: “Many changes today are creating completely new social and interpersonal consequences and some are merely amplifying age-old tenets of success.  What is most often overlooked, however, is where the new and the old collide. Amidst the change, I see three timeless principles increasing in importance and impacting our personal and professional lives in new ways. I call these factors the 3 C’s of modern currency.”

Here is the second factor in the 3-part series…

#2 – Community

Those with large networks filled with passionate, supportive, smart, and influential people will always have the upper hand – in nearly every circumstance. Unfair? Maybe. Truthful? Yes.  Does this sound familiar? … “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Some concepts only grow stronger with time.

A community fosters relationships, reach, resourcefulness, and influence. Coined by Seth Godin, these groups are also commonly referred as one’s tribe – a collection of people with similar interests, values, and goals. Ideally, this group of people knows you, trusts you, listens to you, and will support you.

These individuals may be part of various sub-communities encompassing your family, friends, colleagues, clients, fans, and more. We may not intimately or personally know every member of our various communities, but this doesn’t determine their value.

Now, more than ever before, technology has allowed each of us access to tools that can increase our networks and our efficiency in managing them. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Google+, among many others, are perfect examples of places a community may form and flourish through our efforts.

What is value?

Some will argue that online connections we have never met are shallow, meaningless, and useless. I disagree. My communities have helped me many times in many ways. And although I have not personally met each of my readers, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or LinkedIn connections, they have been very good to me.

“But what about me?” you ask. “Is a community really that important?” What value does a tribe provide? Well, have you ever needed… important feedback? An introduction to someone important? A job? A recommendation? An answer to a rather obscure research question?  Crowdsource it to your community.  Launching a new company, product, or service? Have a cool quote or link to share? Turn to your tribe.

In fact, in his extensive study known as the Strength of Weak Ties, researcher Mark Granovetter shows that professional opportunities are more often found through our weak social ties than through our strong ties. You cannot afford to not grow you network.

Personal branding expert, Dan Shawbel, has written: A decade or so ago, if you had the right hard skills, you would be almost guaranteed a job. Then, when the market became more competitive, companies started looking for soft skills, including presentation, writing, organization and leadership. This way, companies could recruit the individuals who would be the best fit to the organization. Today, you need to have hard skills, soft skills and online influence. You might be hired based on the number of Twitter followers you have or if Lady Gaga retweets you. Individuals who have the largest and most influential networks bring more to a company – they bring an audience of potential buyers.”

Time to get social

What does this mean to you? It’s time to be social. Did you know that 96 percent of Americans under 50 are on Facebook? Did you know that during the second half of 2010, LinkedIn’s membership base grew, on average, by 1 million new members every ten days?  And if you’re on these sites and others, are you utilizing the many features each offers?  I sure hope so.

Regardless of what you do or who you are, a small, but growing community is still always better than no community. The more people you can reach, draw upon, inspire, and influence, the more social clout, currency, and security you have. This is what is also called one’s social capital.

Those who master the social complexities of the Internet will enjoy more opportunity both personally and professionally.

If you’re not building your community already (especially online), it’s time to start. In the online world, take action to secure your personal brand and your e-real-estate. Check out KnowEm.com to grab your name and secure your brand across 550 social media websites before someone else does. Visit Klout.com to see how your online presence and social clout measures up.

But take note: A tribe is valuable in direct relation to how you add value to its members. This is where communication, consistency, and trust enter the picture once again.

The members of your communities pay you by giving their attention, support, and sometimes their dollars, but abuse this power or fail to ‘enchant’ them (as Guy Kawasaki would say) and watch the sandcastle crumble. But by taking care of them, they will take great care of you… in more ways than you presently realize.

If I’m speaking your language, let’s join forces here: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Google+.

 

Reflection questions:

  • When I Google myself what do I find?  Would this info be attractive to my ideal tribe members?
  • How many social networks am I utilizing? Should I be accessing more or focus on a select few that apply to my interests and goals? (NOTE: If you feel overwhelmed, seek out interfaces such as HootSuit that allow you to manage multiple accounts and sites from one place)
  • What is my current Klout.com score? Am I pleased with this?
  • What am I doing each day/week to expand/build my communities? How am I adding value to my members?

The final “C” of Modern Currency is coming soon. To read the 1st “C,” click here.

Your thoughts?

What are your thoughts on the topic? Post your comments below.

Be uncommon,

- Kent

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