Be Mindful of the Social Networks’ Hidden Influences

Earlier, when we used to live in tribes, everyone knew everyone else; there was a presence of naturally strong feedback systems. And, we knew it was important to build networks, and, add positive value to it, to make sure that we get support when we need. No one felt the need of any sophisticated market research. And the strong influence of the social networks was not so hidden. However, with the industrialization, people left their tribes, came to the cities, joined the entities called “corporations”, it became hard (and sometimes impossible) to know all the neighbors. We lost our naturally strong feedback mechanisms. Everyone became almost anonymous. And, the predominant view emerged that the sources of success largely depend on the amount of resources and capabilities we possess. And, slowly, we started ignoring the impact of social network, the fabric that we weave and get embedded in.

Now, with all the technological advancements and globalization, when the world has become a global village; many researchers draw attention toward the important influences of social networks, and the important role of active internet market research, social media research and feedback systems.  In his really thought provoking talk, Nicholas Christakis, professor of medicine and sociology at Harvard University, tracks how a wide variety of traits -- from happiness to obesity -- can spread from person to person; he shows how your location in the network might impact your life in ways you don't even know. Similarly, in the business management literature, emerging research suggests that the top managers’ social networks have significant impact on their strategic flexibility and their organization’s dynamic capabilities and competitive success.  Therefore, I think, the following three steps seem important to survive and succeed in today’s hyper connected world.

  1. Meaningfully engage, shape and influence your network

    Watch your words and actions carefully; watch “what” you are spreading around in your network online and in the real world.  Actively conduct consumer surveys or research to get required feedback to know what matters to your customers and what are you providing to them. As I stated in my earlier blog, find a compelling story and start something that matters the most to your customers. Be an active node, add value and meaningfully connect the people together, who are part of your network.  They might always remember and be thankful to you for connecting them together!
  2. Mindfully analyze and be aware of how your network influences you

    Ask yourself when did you last changed any publicly stated opinion or strongly held belief; it requires a lot of courage to do so. Analyze how open you are to listen and learn, social media or internet market research may be helpful here. Being open and being influenced is not as easy as it seems. It requires active listening and you need to act like a filter, you may need to absorb the negative contagion effects with resilience and still being open to the effective and useful feedbacks.
  3. Understand the domino’s effects

    The social network actions has chain reactions, and it is important to develop a feedback system to judge and predict the negative and positive chain reactions. Some of these chain reactions can be potentially dangerous for your company, a sudden spread of Kardashian hate group or Occupy Wall street movement is the examples of the importance of the dominos effects.

Please let us know how you are shaping and being shaped by your network.

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