Where to start with building your network, which people should be in your network and value and who is just noise? Most networks we have were created organically based on either social aspects (family, neighborhood, school, sports) work or interest aspects (school, university, hobby, sports, department) or any other aspect. However none of them existed since we had to get information or we had to create a network to keep in touch, we got them as a result of another activity. However We never had to create a personal social network in order to get all the information we needed. Signal and noise has become a factor in deciding to connect with somebody.
Does it happen to us?
Often we don’t deliberately choose to build our network, it happens to us most of the time, it is created for us, therefore it is a big switch to all of the sudden have to check checkboxes and select other things to build your personal social network and create an information flow. However it doesn’t really happens to us, we already do it on purpose, though with another purpose then building a network.
When you start with playing soccer you know your social network will extended by at least 10 other people. When you are going to school you know you get your class as new people in your social network, with family there is hardly ever a choice, you got them in your network one way or another. Though on social networks and especially internal business social networks often there is less of these circumstances that help you to create a social network. Since that is what the soccerclub, the school and family does, creating a basis of your social network.
Selecting people for your network
You might want to build your internal social network by following colleagues you know or who are in your department, however in most big enterprises there are more people you don’t know then you know. So how will you find those people who are interesting and you don’t want to miss. Is following your colleagues you know efficient? Are they talking about things you want to know, is it signal or is it noise? How will you find the thought leaders on your topics, who are people with the best information?
Again your old, offline network might help. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody so that might help. Though even though most of your colleagues are interesting it is not likely your personal goal to develop a very close relationship with everybody, that might be only with a few who become a real friend.
People or information?
It also might help to focus less on people, but focus more on information, what are the things of interest for you? Getting the information you want might be easier to focus just on the topics you are interested in and less on the people. Since quite some people will talk about different topics, making it sometimes noise and sometimes signal.