Earlier today I was asked by a Twitter twin (i.e. a person who commenced tweeting at the same time as me) how it is that I’ve secured a larger following than he has. I hadn’t given much thought to numbers - I’m just enjoying the interaction and exchange of ideas with others. However his question prompted me to consider why people network and what they want out of it. I am quite simple: I’m not trying to sell anything, nor do I wish to convince or impress others into believing that I am clever or overly accomplished, I am just curious and I enjoy learning about and from people.
I had the good fortune to attend a team off-site last week facilitated by an extraordinary psychologist, Jim McNeish – he runs an exceptional Leadership Development centre called Cantle on the banks of Loch Tay in Scotland. Jim spent one morning discussing Bioenergetics with us and helping us to recognise the five main types, as initially devised by Alexander Lowen, namely:
Type 1 – “Wizard” (tend to be academic in approach and need data, don’t like surprises sprung on them and are highly principled – they appreciate honesty)
Type 2 – “Poet” (tend to be charming and fun, with excellent ambassadorial skills and an ability to get people to talk, but Poets can be high maintenance and moody)
Type 3 – “Super Hero” (Tend to be charismatic and inspire loyalty but highly political. Generous, until they feel betrayed in which case they become ruthless)
Type 4 – “Good Parent” (Reliable, team orientated & hard working, but can become an impressive martyr putting guilt trips on others when they feel insufficiently valued)
Type 5 - “Warrior” (Efficient, focussed, success orientated - unlikely to be over supportive as winning a fair game is more important than the team around them)
NB these are my own observations, with very rough “quick and dirty” summaries based on my notes and observations, they in no way reflect on Jim’s opinions or professionalism
I am not going to go into the psychology behind the types, although what we discussed was very thought provoking and surprisingly compelling. But I am going to pass comment on how I think the types present themselves on-line, in social networking sites. I, like many on Twitter, am social and have a lot of the “Good Parent” in me – as a result I will try to help others and be responsive to requests and comments. There are very few “Wizards” – most networking sites provide insufficient time for the contemplation they desire or the dissemination of detailed/accurate data (there’s only so much you can do in 140 characters). It is a good medium for “Poets”, although it will keep them away from the day job if they get the attention they crave through social networking (unless of course their role is social networking!). I suspect that there are more “Super Heroes” than I think – they are the ones who have a good understanding of the potential Big Picture and what can be achieved by forging political alliances. I see a lot of “Warriors” (my twin is predominantly a Warrior) – it is clear that he, like his peers, sees the medium as a competitive route to sales and customers.
I suspect that I have more followers than he does because I am not trying to solicit business. Given the diversity of the community, simply blaring your wares is unlikely to attract many positive responses. People need to feel comfortable with the people they deal with commercially (or indeed socially); to achieve that you have to make the effort to get to know and understand them. Adopting different approaches, which will connect with specific individuals and types, seems to be the way forward. A well known retailer taught its off-line store salespeople to recognise the types outlined above and to interact with them in ways that would encourage them to buy. Sales in the stores where this approach was adopted increased by over 30%. But how do you recognise the types? Perhaps a few days on the banks of Loch Tay could provide a meaningful answer…
It is worth noting that very few people are so type cast that they only fit in to one category. This is a good thing as it means there is a route to rectify a damaged relationship by appealing to another facet of a person’s personality. For those who are interested, and not wishing to sound like a porn film summary, I have a bit of both the “Warrior” and the “Super Hero” in me.
So - think about how you try to connect with people - it might be sufficient simply to appreciate that you need to adopt your approach, as that will change your own mindset, to get the best out of others