How many people have you lost touch with over the years? I know it has to be in the hundreds for me. Why does..or did…this happen? Could it be I have too many connections I do not know?
Going back a number of years, around 1995, I attended a Harvard Business School training class that addressed the Dunbar theory, or “number” and how smaller numbers of people to supervise was a more productive way of management. The ‘Dunbar number’ outlines a correlation between a primate’s brain size and average social group size.
Using this coefficient of the average human brain size and extrapolating that from the results of primates, they could predict that humans can comfortably maintain only 150 stable relationships. Out of these relationships would be all of the connections a human would needed to survive. Or, in business, would be the maximum number of connections needed to be productive…or profitable.
So why do people have thousands of online friends?
Knowing that 150 people is about all a person can physically manage, several questions come about when I see business people on LinkedIn claiming the several thousands of “professional associates” as being close friends.
- Why do people have thousands of friends on Facebook and even more on LinkedIn?
- Are business people aware of the change in consumer’s view of people taunting ten’s of thousands of connections?
- Why do people attempt to manage more relationships than they can physically maintain?
- Are business people aware that there is a second tier of networking to the connections of your connections?
- Do these people with thousands of connections feel they are really communicating effectively with more than a 150 people?
The answers to these questions unfortunately are not what most people want to hear. The answer they want to hear is that more people, places and things a person can gather as so called “Friends, Followers or Plussers” the more possibility they have in directly influencing more people than they know.
Actually, that theory was working until the darkside of the internet moved in everyone’s social space appearing to be an influencer only to cause personal and professional havoc to anyone who became their “Friend”.
Thus, the evolution of internet users, or consumers, moved away from anyone contacting them who had absurdly large numbers of “Friends”. Consumers..who are usually your real life friends…moved into the protective cover of “Communities”.
Build a Community Instead of Friends
Robin Dunbar went on to report, communities of 150 people or less will network better and find solutions to problems quicker than communities over 150 people. This translates into today’s “Gotta Be Seen” culture to saying, broadcasting to large numbers of people you do not know will become counter productive to accomplishing anything.
- Quit believing that the thousands of people you are broadcasting your product or service to are actually seeing it.
- Make an effort to find the 150 people you REALLY know in your contacts and make them your ‘A List” community.
- Direct your media to those 150.
- Ask them to help spread your message.
So, when was the last time we talked? Could it be that you fall outside my ‘Dunbar Number’ from all the people I stay in touch with daily? Let’s find out.
And…let me know how I can help.
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Also published on Medium.