Just when I thought it was time to switch off the life-support machine that has been keeping real-world networking meetings alive; it looked clearly brain-dead and the only reason it was still breathing was because its nearest and dearest (a.k.a. the owners of networking organisations) were too emotionally attached/or rather financially dependent to pull the plug. Then guess what? Along comes Peer Index with a miracle cure. Real world networking has its chance to live again!
I had the privilege of being invited to the Peer Index party. For the uninitiated Peer Index, as the name suggests, indexes social media users based on how influential they are online and gives them a score between 1 and 100. The higher your score the more influential you are. I scored a 72 which was the highest index score of the night – but more about that later. Scores are based on the quality of what you share; how widely what you share is shared; the speed at which the information you share is shared and the frequency that you share information that is shared. According to Peer Index these measures represent how authoritative you are on a subject because naturally we like to talk about what we know. Your authority on a subject is affirmed when the people you are connected with share your information. Hence you get a better score for your social reach then you do for the number of followers, friends, connections etc that you have.
The Peer Index differs from other social media indexes like Klout and Kred in that it claims to measure authority rather than influence. We can split hairs over the meaning of words that haven’t had a collective agreement on their definitions; however, the real difference is in terms of how they compile their measurements. Peer Index uses Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Quora; whilst Klout omits Quora and includes Google + and Foursquare. Kred put all its eggs in one basket and only uses Twitter.
Online indexes aren’t without their dissenters. Many have argued that the idea of social influence based on measures like followers and retweets is nothing more than hype. That influence isn’t about reach – it is about being able to change thoughts and behaviour; these indexes measure how widely you are connected, however, they are not sophisticated enough to ascertain if the so called social influencers are actually getting people to think or act in a different way.
Whilst I only have my experience to go on, I would argue that social influencers do influence people to change their behaviour. We are regularly presented with the argument that celebrities are role models for behaviour and therefore we think nothing of the press vilifying a celebrity that has misbehaved or such celebities being stripped of their status and honour simply because we buy into this philosophy. In the world of social media people with the high scores are akin to the celebrities. Without seeming to blow my own trumpet; I am regularly contacted by people who tell me that they have made changes to the way they approach their social media engagement because of information I have passed on to them; or businesses that have taken a fresh look at how they carry out certain aspects of their business as a direct result of interactions they have had with me on social media.
But back to the fabulous networking event; how refreshing to attend an event where people are genuinely interested in getting to know and like your rather than flog your their latest product. What’s more the Peer Index party resembled the networking of old, whose primary purpose was to put you in contact with influential people in your industry. Since its heyday in the mid 2000s, off line networking has really changed over the years. Like the cheap package holiday, it has become a feeding fest for small and micro businesses looking for all the advantages without wanting to make any real investment. Worst still, for companies looking to expand and grow their influence, it has become harder to meet key people.
The Peer Index party was a chance for its top influencers to meet each other and the people behind the company. Perhaps it was because Peer Index had already confirmed everyone’s validity as people of note that the evening went so well – no one had anything to prove or grandstand about – Algorithms had independently assessed us and we all accepted their judgment without jealousy. So we just got on and networked, made friends, discovered common interests, possible collaborations and exchanged cards knowing that we would not be added to someone’s weekly mailing list without our permission. Instead the card exchanges were a genuine intention to meet up in the future to continue developing our new found relationships.
Why I found this experience so exciting is because it suggests that in the future the best real world networking will be organised by the online indexers who are able to bring together the right people in your niche. One of the things I learnt last night is that Peer Index is planning on holding regular small events for the people on their Index. Therefore I would suggest that regardless of what you thought of the likes of Klout, Kred and Peer Index etc. in the past, sign up and join in because in terms of real world networking I predict that these websites will be the game changers.
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