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Connecting: Linearity, Provenance, Serendipity & Social Networks

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 by in ThiNK First | 13 comments


Six Degrees of Separation is great but does it help? I say no! It’s old news – table-stakes. We’re all accessible. That is the new normal. The problem with extreme accessibility, we sometimes need to filter out of necessity (and that’s a post all of its own).

There’s a simple fact, the more famous and the more influential you really are, the more you filter. It’s a survival necessity.

The people you want to connect with are filtering. So you need to make friends not connections. You need to keep your network alive and willing and open to connection and engagement.

This post is about the linearity of connection and how each connection matters. Each connection has the potential to get you closer to your goals. Each connection also lets you help other people too. Each connection can be a new best friend.

We live in a hyperlinked world where so many things are experienced non-linearly. We flit from topic to topic.

Connections are linear. One connection leads to another. If you aren’t connecting you are denying serendipity. I’m a huge fan of dancing with serendipity. She often willingly dances with me, but you have to give her a chance.  Don’t be a lurker in your own network.

I love provenance. Provenance is a hot word in the food business. People want to know where their food came from. I’m a firm believer in knowing where your connections came from.

No connection. No gain. The social web makes connection provenance easy to track. The more I think about it the more I appreciate how each small connection has real value. You have to cultivate that value and your create a culture of connectivity and openness in your network.

You never know who will connect you. Conversely nobody knows who you know and who you can connect them with.

Pre-Internet, I remember spending a lot of money on print ads back in the early 90’s. I got to do that because of provenance. I used to track my print ads with rabid obsession. I could tell your the ROI on every ad and every customer. That information gave me power to both negotiate better rates and to get a bigger budget.

So my point is this. Are you on top of the value your are deriving from all your social activity?

What does that mean in terms of Social Media? How do we track Social Provenance?

Simple. It means knowing who came from who. Create moments so connections can occur. Ted Rubin is a master of moments.

We maybe only 6 connections away from anyone, but it’s connection chains that really bring you value. And chains tend to have some weak links and some strong links. It’s your job to strengthen your network. You can be an active or a passive participant in your network.

If you connect people, people connect you. Don’t sit back and wait. Create the opportunity and the moments for serendipity to work.

Most importantly, failing to connect simply defers or denies the future connection you may really need. That’s kind of scary when you think about it. One unmade connection could change your life. It feels like a movie plot.

That “one more” connection that will tip your world, may be closer than you think. Are you asking the right questions?

The more linear connections you make, the more your network can interconnect.

If you are interested here’s my story – a Listly chain of events.

  • Roughly 9 months ago I connected with Danny Iny (@DannyIny).
  • Danny used Listly on his blog to run a contest and I connected with the contestants.
  • Tom Treanor (@Tom_Treanor) was on of those contestants.
  • Tom and I first connected around this time. A loose connection.
  • Danny later launches an eBook that features his Listly list on the footer of every page. We customized Listly for Danny in such a way that helped Danny to turn his eBook into a fully funded book project. His list has been viewed 20k+ times and been embedded 20+ times so far.
  • Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) commented on Danny’s cool use of Listly and that resulted in us striking up a conversation. We later meet at #cmworld.
  • I also met Ian Clearly (@IanMCleary)at #cmworld, having chatted via Twitter. Ian wrote this review for Social Media Examiner – It was approved by Cindy King who I’d met at #Sobcon via Liz Strauss (@lizstrauss). Sobcon Connected me to many more people.
  • Ian has since connected me to Nate Riggs (@nateriggs) that led to this interview and he also connected me to Francisco Rosales that led to  this guest blog post on @socialmouths
  • I connected with Dino Dogan (Triberr’s co-founder @dino_dogan) in New York. I was working in Internet Media Labs office (@InternetLabs). I was offered space there by Robert Moore (@Medialabrat) and Peter Bordes (@mediatrustpete) for my stay earlier this summer. I was initially introduced to them and many more via Brandie McCallum (@lttlewys).
  • I should have spoken to Dino months earlier when Peg Fitzpatrick (@PegFitzpatrick) offered to connect me. I missed that connection the first time around and wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass me by twice.
  • Also while working in the Lab I met Liva Judic (@merrybubbles) who’s now running Social Media for @overblog. She then invited me to connect with Mack Collier (@MackCollier) and to be a guest on #blogchat.
  • I met Brandie, Liva and Peg initially via #usguys (and many more folks too), who knew that connecting in them would enrich my network so much.
  • Peg alson with Paul Biederman (@PaulBiedermann) run, that connection led to a review by Douglas Rice (@douglaserice)
  • While in New York, I also got to hang out with Ric Dragon (@RicDragon) and visit DragonSearch’s offices, home of the ever social  Josepf Haslam (@Josepf).
  • When I finally began using @Triberr after being invited to join Rebel Brown’s (@RebelBrown) tribe, I waw eventually invited to write a guest post for her blog – Rebel is another connection that initiated from #usguys.
  • From there, I got to talk to Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan) , who also happened to be a part of Rebel’s tribe. I’d known Bruce via #usguys, but we’d never spoken in person. Sometimes connecting deeper  just takes the slightest nudge.
  • Then I took Dino’s advice and created my own tribes for Social Curation and for Software Startups.
  • I found Tom and Cendrine (@cendrinemedia) on Triberr and invited them to join my Curation Tribe. I didn’t know Cendrine, but I saw she wrote on curation. It seemed logical to invite her and she accepted.
  • Tom went on to make a list post by reusing a list from one of my posts. A post that eventully gets seen by Denise Wakeman (@DeniseWakeman), who then became a Listly user herself and wrote this review. Denise uses Listly regularly and has recommended it whole heartedly to her community.
  • Cendrine later discovered @Listly and created a list post that became her most viewed post ever. She later interviewed me for Digital Journal and has since written a review.
  • Neal Schaffer @NealSchaffer learned of Listly via a comment on G+ via Kevin v Duuglas-Ittu (@mediasres) about Cendrine’s list post. (Kevin was another #usguys connection.). This interaction prompted Neal and I to talk. He is now planning to use Listly on his blog and to write a review.
  • Kevin created this awesome blogroll of Doll Blogs for Tonner doll
  • Ted Rubin (@TedRubin) introduced me to Sarah Evans (@prsarahevans) who introduced me to the guys at Slimbooks (@slimbooks). I’ve since introduced them to lots of people.
  • I’m soon to be speaking in LA and Toronto for MediaBistro. Stéphanie Montreuil (@Steph_Montreuil) , who I met at #140Conf suggested I apply to speak at their Social Curation Summit, as curation is one of my of my hot topics. One ask resulted in two opportunities and in this case, I was able to leverage my previous connections to Ric and Liva, who know Stewart Quealy (@stewq).

I feel I’m missing people and stories. It’s the nature of networks. You still need to remember networks form from linear connections. Network stories don’t have clean boundaries, but they are formed linearly.

My life is connecting and reconnecting.

We’re all so closely unconnected that it’s not the closeness that matters. You have to connect and then get closer. You have a choice of being a lynchpin in your network.

It’s realizing that each connection you make may lead to more connections. Doors open and doors close on a dime.  It’s all down to how you approach it – and how you pay it forward.  You don’t know how anyone can help you. If you don’t take the time to know them, you will never find the connection.

I could tell the story of many more connections. The more you make for others, the more people make for you.

Others big connectors in my world include Meghan Biro (@MeghanMBiro) , Jeff Waldman (@jeffwaldmanhr),  Margie Clayman @MargieClayman, Caroline Di Deigo (@casudi)  and Tim McDonald (@Tamcdonald).

Who are your big connectors? All you have to do is be open to the possibility. Are you ready to dance with serendipity? Who are you going to connect today? What kind of connector are you?

Image Credit: anieto2k via and Creative Commons

Nick Kellet (164 Posts)

Nick is co-founder the social curation platform Listly, that combines crowdsourcing, content curation and embedable lists to drive high-level community engagement, live inside your blog posts. Connect with Nick on Twitter · Linkedin, Facebook and G+ and follow his writing via his other guest posts and on his blogs at and


  1. Great post Nick. Thank for the mention. It created a “moment” of it’s own 🙂

    • TedRubin Thanks Ted. You are the master of the moment. And you live by your manta:)

  2. Wow, really excellent. It is so true that these connections are so important and serendipitous. I love the connectors I interact with! They are amazing people. I also enjoy being a connector for othrs.

    • mindykoch It’s fun and rewarding.  Sometimes we forget it’s work:) That’s the best bit. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Thanks for sharing:) @gingerconsult Connecting: Linearity, Provenance, Serendipity & Social Networks via @NickKellet

  4. Thanks:) @AbundanceMktg Good > Connecting: Linearity, Provenance, Serendipity & Social Networks via @NickKellet

  5. Love to have been a branch in your rhizome Nick! And this is how internet histories of ideas should be written. Not: Genius had a great Idea! But, I met whom, and they met whom, and who talked to whom and we did x or y.

    • mediasres Likewise. I’d be missing the invisible third if not and lots more besides

  6. Nick, It’s fascinating to see how your connections are intertwined. I have so many similar stories and feel like my best connections are those I now refer to as friends. Since you grouped me with so many great friends in your “big connector” world, I only don’t know one. Off to connect with JeffWaldmanHR now. A linear connection in action.

  7. @aafromaa Thanks for the RT of @NickKellet’s post. Hope all is well in Alabama

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