Two great posts I found online show me that it's not just me thinking about this. Tim Sanders says we should refresh our network often, and Jeremiah Owyang reports on the risks and opportunities inherent in your network. It's all pointing toward the same thing: You have to think consciously about how you use social networks, and you have to build relationships that are decoupled from goals.
In his presentations, Christopher S. Penn frequently quotes a phrase I use that visionary community and event builder Jeff Pulver told me on the first day of work: "You live or die by your database." Remember that I do lots of events, and that's partially why I say that, but it's also true for people in all areas of business. Think about this:
If you lose your job today, how many people can you reach, and who would be helpful? Think harder about the names of those people. Have you talked with them lately in any form?
How do you stay connected to your network's news? Do you watch the news stream on LinkedIn? Do you watch the updates on Facebook, FriendFeed, and other social networks? Spending 20 minutes or less on these platforms often gives you some interesting pieces of information, and might sometimes prompt a message out to people in your network.
Here are some practices to consider:
Spend 20 minutes a day observing your network. If someone is mostly offline and not a social network user, spend a few minutes sending ...