vanity metrics

Network Science Says Info Brokering Between Networks Makes You A Game Changer. It's Also 2nd Nature To People With Hybrid Cultural Identities.

Don't I know it.

My own hybrid, cross-disciplinary, limbo-state life and work is founded on this phenomenon that network science acknowledges.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 8.23.50 PM Michael Simmons, author and cofounder of iEmpact, explains in "Why Being The Most Connected Is A Vanity Metric" at Forbes that your network is a set of clusters and when you manage to broker info between them you're a game changer. And, being an info broker is a way of life, and you have to constantly fight the urge to relax into the comfort of a group you know. He points out being an info broker is a good foundation for entrepreneurship.

It's no coincidence (to me, or anyone else who read, wrote for, or commented at my hybrid identity discussion site expat+HAREM back in 2009! or anyone who's familiar with the principles of my current community-driven, social web curriculum startup GlobalNiche) that this Forbes piece was written by a multicultural, multiethnic hybrid identity entrepreneur whose life has naturally made him an info broker between networks.

Peruse the expat+HAREM discussions on identity and hybridity.  Look at the highlights of Rose Deniz's podcast about living the hybrid life and what you leave behind in order to do so.

That's echoed in Michael Simmons' piece -- the reason why we can't get comfortable in one group if we want to participate in what he calls "the renaissance of network science" -- is because we lose value and impact by staying ensconced there.

We need to move between all our clusters -- online, offline, professional, personal, ethnic, family, school, friends, interests -- bearing rich, precious, communal, resonant information. That's our job (and our lifestyle) as network game changers.

Being Small = Going For It Despite The Odds

My startup GlobalNiche equips women to use their online presence to build broader networks, connect to opportunities and be the agent of their own development. Six months ago we launched our product based on 25 years of experience, and we have customers. I submitted it to be featured in a directory of companies empowering women listed by a high profile women's empowerment organization. No dice.

"Come back when you have 1,000 Facebook likes and 1,000 Twitter followers." That was the response. "Oh, and when you have a full-featured website."

Seriously? Didn't see any of those stipulations in the directions to submit. Lot of big companies are listed. Guess they didn't think they needed to specify limits for who's empowering and who's not.

But here's the thing: being a small operation does not mean we are not seriously trying to accomplish our goals. It doesn't mean we will not grow. It doesn't mean the value of our enterprise is suspect. It doesn't mean we aren't empowering women.

Being small and scrappy can mean you're just starting out. Maybe you're seeking funding, incubation, acceleration, and entrepreneurial mentorship. Maybe you're taking the time to apply to be listed in women's empowerment organization directories alongside big name companies. Being small can mean going for it despite the odds.

The organization in question is looking for a baseline of commitment in the space, but they're asking the wrong questions.

 

Likes and follower counts are known to be gameable metrics. They're called 'empty metrics' by leaders in social media and entrepreneurship with The Lean Startup's Eric Ries shaming them as 'vanity metrics'.

And what is a full-featured site for a bootstrapped startup? What's required beyond a home page, an about page, a blog, an email sign up form, and some pages about products, services, social proof?

Does our site look like we've spent $100k developing it? Nope. We use a handful of industry-decent services and products to produce the site. Even when we institute the fresh look a designer is working on for us right now, we'll still look like a bootstrapped company until we have at least $15k for upgrades we envision.

We need help to take our work to the next level. We're asking for it. We have to start somewhere.

For a women's empowerment organization devoted to inspiring, educating and supporting us to reach our goals, the least it could do is recognize that very fact.