One of my takeaways from this year’s Mashable Connect was the comment, “Connections are the new impressions.” I was reminded of the comment again in Arianna Huffington’s letter to the Class of 2011. She points out that our latest grads are “the most connected and the most engaged.”
It started me thinking – what is the relationship between connections, impressions and engagement? By definition:
Connections are relationships or associations with someone or something.
Impressions are the effects produced from contact.
Engagement refers to involvement or commitment.
So I’m thinking the process goes something like this…I “connect” with people and organizations. Those connections, if nurtured and managed well, turn into positive “impressions”. And if I continue to get warm fuzzy impressions, solid “engagement” forms because I enjoy the connection. Maybe it’s a circular model like this:
Where this gets tricky is trying to scale the model. For example, I might have 10 connections that I reap a tremendous amount of engagement from. If I try to do the same thing with 100 connections, will I still be successful? If the answer is yes, then building a large quantity of connections becomes important.
On the other hand, what happens if the answer is no? We can’t possibly connect and subsequently engage with large numbers of people. I’m asking because it only seems logical that we then must limit connections as a means to success. But if we limit our connections, then don’t we run the risk of turning away people who want to be engaged with us.
I’ve seen both situations. People who connect with large numbers but never engage. And people who keep their connections small and are missing out on opportunities.
Maybe there’s even a third option. It’s okay to have a large number of connections because all we’re looking for are impressions. Not real engagement. But then isn’t engagement where the real benefits of connecting start to occur?
Let me know your thoughts. How do you decide who to connect with? And what are you looking for – impressions or engagement?