I had the chance to talk with Dave Weinberg, a social media guru who runs Causil, which helps organizations learn best practices in marketing, technology, and communications. A serial social entrepreneur, he helps newly emerging social entrepreneurs as a SocialStart Trainer with PresenTense.
What is a “network”? What is a “network weaver”?
These days, a network is the extension of the definition of what a state used to be – a place with a defined language, space, and culture – except these days a space could also be an online space, and a culture could be defined in terms of a common passion. A network weaver is someone who can tie disparate parts of a community together and grow it.
What added value do you gain from participating in networks?
It’s the idea of a relationships bank. A lot of what I do in business is outreach and incubating relationships. By doing that, I create a bank of good will without having any expected return, at least anything specific. But if over time I have a large enough network with enough good will, good things will come of it.
What to you is the difference between a network and a community? Or is there one?
I think they’re interchangeable. I would use community most likely as it relates to a physical place, or an online place that’s well-defined. A network can be loosely organized; people affiliate around different topics or people. For instance, a network could be comprised of fans of a celebrity, and I wouldn’t call that a community.
Can you explain a little about how social media has influenced how people connect and form networks?
I’ve branded myself as someone who is both very vocal and public, and at the same time very accessible. While we’ve been talking, I’ve been chatting with someone on facebook – someone who I haven’t spoken with in 15 years, who felt comfortable reaching out to ask me for advice.
Could you describe some best practices you use to connect with others and leverage these connections, personally and professionally?
Your real-world relationships have to be just as strong as your online ones. It goes back to the relationships bank – you can’t pull anything out of the bank until you’ve put in.
I try to live by the mantra: Never eat alone. I make lunch and coffee meetings just to meet new people. Whenever I travel – and I travel a lot – I use online tools to tell people where I’ll be and when I’ll have open hours. Until you connect with someone face to face, figure out how you really connect, and try to do something together, you’ll be friends online, but that won’t be as meaningful.
Are there any networks you wish you were part of or wish you could start?
One that doesn’t exist is in the job market. As a Jewish community, we have had a hard time connecting potential employees and employers. I created ParnassaFest – we did 30 meetups around the US and Canada, which helped about 6,000 people in one year. As an extension of that, Causil Talent will have a database of applicants and organizations in the Jewish world.
What is some advice you’d give to network-weavers?
Look at successful models, both in our community and outside. Learn what’s been successful and adapt it. Also, come back periodically and assess what you’ve been doing – your model should constantly be evolving.
Dave Weinberg tweets as @weinberg81.