Evaluating your network
Deciding which relationships to discontinue and which to develop can be difficult, but regular evaluation of your networking activity is key to ensure it meets your career aims and allows you to make a contribution to other people’s in return.
In such evaluation, be careful not to get sidetracked by what can be readily measured instead of what’s important. Online networking statistics are a case in point. You might feel heartened by having a large number of connections on LinkedIn, hundreds of followers on Twitter and flocks of friends on Facebook, but what counts is the quality of the interactions – as expressed by comments or replies to your contributions on those platforms – and ultimately the real-world results they create.
Kaushik (2011) proposes four measures by which to evaluate social media activity:
- Conversation: interaction between your contacts and your content
- Amplification: measured in shares and retweets, which mean that your contributions reach through your contacts to their contacts
- Applause: the measures of approval you generate such as likes, favourites or ‘+1’s on Google+
- Economic value: for example the number of concrete opportunities that emerge as a result of a programme of networking activity.
Kaushik’s measures adapt well to networking activity, both online and face to face. Conversation, amplification and applause are closely related to one another. Your most productive networking relationships are likely to involve regular communication (‘conversation’) with contacts supportive of your aims (‘applause’) and willing to recommend you to others (‘amplification’). These are likely to produce your current clients, customers or employers – thus creating economic value.
But how to decide which of the remaining, less active relationships to pursue and which to cull? In the next step, you will find out how to adapt a popular strategic model to help you decide.
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