The Online Network – Returning That Intimacy?
It’s my birthday. 39 years old today, and your online network probably told you that.
And who remembered that it’s my birthday? Well a curious group of people.
My wife and children woke me up with a chorus of happy birthdays traditionally sang off-key and a little too loud.
A few friends on Facebook posted their best wishes on my timeline.
Fourteen people on LinkedIn wrote me best wishes messages – two of which I had to look up their profiles to ascertain who exactly they were and how we were connected.
I then got three messages from random contacts on Skype.
I got a ‘heart-felt’ text message from my pension fund wishing me well.
I got an email from my car insurance company sending me their best wishes and also reminding me of my forthcoming renewal date.
I got only one, yes just one physical card from my older sister.
Finally my parents left me a voicemail message.
Now I know I sound very grumpy, which is not my intent. I am grateful that people took the time to reach out to me on my special day. The problem is that the day feels less special than it used to.
My birthday experience seems to be a microcosm of our modern lives.
On the one hand we are super connected to a very broad range of people who all have access to us in real time on a range of online network’s.
On the other hand we have lost the intimacy of relationships. I am less able to differentiate between myself and the various individuals and groups in my life. All seem to merge into one huge social online network.
I love the fact that I am connected to 1 billion people on an online network like Facebook, but how willing are those people to actually help me?
The future will be about returning intimacy to our relationships; about being able to reintroduce words like ‘special’, ‘best’ and ‘exclusive’ into our online network and communication and in engaging alumni generally.
The future will continue to be about being very broadly connected, but also about having deeper connectivity as well.
The future will have a new networking maxim. It will not be just about who you know, but how willing they are to help you.
There is a significant opportunity for education institutions in particular to take advantage of their ability to cut through the ‘noise’ of our super connected world in engaging alumni.
Any institution that can provide access to an exclusive alumni network that is willing to help, while leveraging modern social networks, has a huge value proposition to offer its alumni and members.
The future is about to get smaller, more intimate, more exclusive, and ironically as a result, more deeply connected.
I would welcome your thoughts.