social networking

Trust Agents 6b: Human Artist

In social media, human is the new black.

One of the key things social media does is connect people. It gives a voice to corporations, institutions, celebrities and everyday Joe Schmoes, and connects us in a whole new relational economy.

People who didn’t have a voice before are now able to have a large voice and huge following, all because social media has leveled the playing field.

One thing to remember is that behind every avatar, Tweet, blog post and comment there is an individual. Oftentimes we get lost in the logistics of followers and analytics that we forget that fact behind every number is a person.

And, as Chris and Julien point out in this chapter, part of becoming a Trust Agent is understanding how to maintain a human-shaped network.

Here’s a few suggestions that I think could help us go a long way in adding value to our online [and offline] relationships.

  • Make Constant Touches. Be has human as you can be. If you think of someone, ping them. Let people know they are on your radar, and keep track of how long it’s been since you’ve directly contacted someone. And, take advantage of the birthday notifications on Facebook and take a quick second each day to shoot out a few personal birthday wishes. If you’re anything like me, my birthday on Facebook is one of the days I look forward to the most [it’s coming up on November 25, by the way].
  • Connect people together constantly. Your personal network is a wealth of information and opportunity to others. Become an expert at connecting people. It not only adds value to your friendships, it places you in a great position to be known as a connector. You’d be amazed at some of the crazy things that could be made possible by simply connecting someone you know who has a need with someone who has the ability to meet it. And, if you’re a student of Malcom Gladwell, you’ll know connectors are hugely influential in creating a tipping point!
  • Link fervently. This sort of goes along with connecting people, but if you know someone who has a good thing going, share the link love. Use your platform to point to people who are doing something you are noticing. [Sidenote: don’t turn into a RSS feed of links; choose who and what you link to carefully, if you do it too much, people will tune you out.]
  • Mix up the transmission methods. A not-so-vital but helpful tactic is to not use the same method each time when you’re connecting wit people. If you’re thinking about an @ reply, consider a DM [Twitter speak for public contact to private]; or if you always interact via email, consider picking up the phone. Just like your dating/marriage relationship, be creative and mix it up, don’t be so predictable.

We have a whole new relational economy to deal with, and the art of becoming a true Trust Agent is learning how to develop and maintain relational collateral with people.

A few things to think about…

  1. Are you taking the time to add value to the people who are a part of your networks?
  2. Who has recently connected you to a person or opportunity that you would have otherwise not known about? Stop reading this and take a moment to shoot them a quick note of thanks.
  3. What’s something you’ve read in the last 24 hours that stopped and made you think or inspired you? Share it. Post it. Tweet it. Share the love.
  4. When you go to @ reply someone or DM today, consider an alternate way of communicating with someone. Mix it up!
  5. Think about something you could incorporate into your daily routine to make a connection with some people in your network [ i.e. checking Facebook birthdays, sending a few emails, etc. ]

[image by lisarandolph]

Tim Schraeder is the Director of Communications at Park Community Church, a Gospel-centered, innovative church that reaches nearly 2,000 young adults each week in downtown Chicago. He blogs his thoughts on church communications at and is an incessant Twitterer.

About the author



  • The thing from this chapter that keeps banging around in my head is the idea of keeping a database of all the “touches.” On the one hand it sounds like it might help to maintain relationships and keep people from falling through the cracks. On the other hand, it sounds very unnatural and inhuman.

    Does anyone do this? Or is anyone considering starting to do this? Just wondering what others’ thoughts on this are.

  • I appreciate the emphasis on maintaining relationship via social media. I love to follow new people, read new blogs, and “stalk” people on facebook, but maintaining all those relationships can take a lot of time. Using facebook birthdays and any other triggers is helpful, but still, that can be time consuming.

    I am starting to think that I need to actually set aside time each day just to connect with people on the web. Maybe short 15 minute periods throughout the day. How do you guys manage to connect with all those people?

    Paul, I agree with you – keeping a database seems too calculated and unnatural for me. For businesses and ministries, I think it could be done, but I wouldn’t publicize it – it would probably turn people off.

  • I’m not sure I’m ready to start an excel sheet just to keep track of the people I like. Instead I’ve created a folder in my bookmarks called “Fav Blogs”. I’ve got about 13 in there right now. I’m slowly trying to get better at continuously commenting on them.

    As far as connecting with people in different ways… I’m totally for that. I’ve started DMing people instead of @replying lately because I think it’s more personal. I used to reserve facebook for the people I’ve actually shaken hands with but am now slowly opening the floodgates to everyone else. Facebook is a little more personal than Twitter for me.

    You know what beats all of it though?! Lunch. Tim and I had the opportunity to have lunch together a week or so before Cultivate and it was great getting to know him a little. (Thanks Tim… I’m buying next time)

    I’m trying to move from a ‘techie’ role to a communications role and I’m happy to know Tim. The connection was made through blogging. This works!

  • I understand the need for the connections. But,really, without a staff to help, how does one make time for all the necessary connections and still find time to work?

    I'm a freelancer; I make my own hours. I could easily spend half my day on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter keeping connected. The other half trolling the blogs and commenting. I still have assignments and deadlines, though.

    For me the best way to maintain the connections is to rotate during the week. I don't check Facebook everyday. I don't read blogs everyday (obviously I didn't read this until the day after it was posted), and I don't check Twitter all day.

    I do love DMing on Twitter. Some folks contend that reply is better for a long follower list. Is a large following of people you never connect with better than connecting directly?

    Speaking of Twitter — I think it's important to live what you preach. One prominent publisher often Tweets about the customer service through Twitter. This person will often complain when he doesn't get a response to a Tweet. But, this same person doesn't respond to direct Tweets concerning products. I'm finding I "listen" less to this person.

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