A friend, of a friend, of a friend

This is a post originally appeared at http://nusum.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/a-friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend/

I was part of an interesting information chain the other day and wanted to share it.

No surprise to those of you that know me, I was walking the dogs and received an email on my phone from a colleague who was looking for a freelance contractor with experience with a particular, somewhat eclectic community platform. While enjoying the sun I read the message and responded that I would see if there was anyone in my network. FirstI quickly checked out the site using the mobile browser on my phone.
Then I posted the following twitter message at 3:50 pm

anyone have xp using world cafe? http://www.theworldcafe.com/. might have a business opportunity if you do

I received the first response at 3:56 PM. It was from someone I know and respect immensely and I would have had no reservation recommending him, I had no idea that he had the experience in question. Unfortunately for me, he is also a public servant and unable to take contracts. A little later, 4:46 PM to be precise, as I was drying two wet golden retrievers, I received a Direct Message from someone in Ottawa that I follow. He knew of the platform and I offered to introduce him to my colleague. He passed on the coordinates of an expert within his firm. I copied those and emailed them to my colleague, at 5:05 PM, my colleague replied he replied with his thanks at 7:05 PM.

Yesterday, (11 days after the original exchange) I ran into my colleague at the gym and he updated me. The contact I gave him could not do the project but knew someone who could. That individual could not do the project either, but knew someone who could. That individual is now lined up to do the work. I thought this whole thing was kind of interesting and created a little drawing of it.

There are a couple of things that stuck me about this.

First, the ease, speed and location independence of the initial email/twitter exchanges far surpasses what was possible just a few years ago. In 30 seconds I shared an opportunity with potentially 100’s of people. Without the ability to instantly access that network, I would have briefly racked my brain and said “sorry, no one comes to mind, if run across anyone I will let you know”, a response that very rarely leads to anything productive. As it turned out a couple of minutes of my time gave him a lead and kicked off a chain of events that led to

The second thing that strikes me is the value of loose ties and serendipity. I am not sure what the business case is for serendipity but I do think that the ability of social media to enable eclectic groups of people to connect increases the likelihood of it happening, and I think that is a good thing, what do you think?

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