Saturday, June 27, 2009

Being a Hub

A few days ago, I received an announcement email for a terrific conference called Voice of the Customer. I attended last year and enjoyed the program immensely. The surroundings are gorgeous, the topics are timely, the speakers are knowledgeable, and the networking opportunities are abundant.

At the end of last year's conference, the producers asked for topics to present this year. One of the ideas that seemed to have some traction was about creating "user groups" as a component of better support. Now, it so happens that I used to be a regional liaison for a large user group program, and had 47 user groups from Maine to Delaware in my region. I offered privately to one of the producers to see if I could get my successor in that position to address the topic. After a few tries, I managed to get the two talking to each other, and there was the session on this year's program. It wasn't a big deal. I just got two people talking to each other about a specific thing.

People often ask me questions like, "Do you know anybody who...?" or "Do you know where I can find..?." As many times as not, I have an answer, and many of those times it's, "Let me ask my friend (insert name). They might know." And, many times, I'm able to provide either the information, or a connection to the information.

In the branch of network theory called social network analysis, there are people who are particularly busy hubs, people with large groups of 'loose ties.' These people can often shortcut searches for information and help.

I'm one of these people. I don't have large family or a small group of active friends, but I have friends from about every walk of life you can imagine, and I can reach out to just about any one of them for an answer or for some expertise at just about any time. And I love to be able to help. It makes me feel like a valuable human being, and that is something all of us can stand to feel more often.

If you're "somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody," you are a "useful" person according to social network analysis, and if you aren't making these kinds of connections, maybe you can learn to do so.

Give it some thought.

1 comment:

  1. So true, Roy! We can share now, more than ever due to technology...texts, email, SocNetworking, etc...keep writing, these are great!