Friends, Connections and Opportunity

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The influx of social media into our lives has changed the way people interact. People have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook, or hundreds on “connections” in Linkedin. Facebook for your personal life, Linked in for your career?

It’s a fair statement that the traditional definitions of these terms are being changed by the labels social media places on them. By way of disclosure, I have 104 friends on facebook, and 500+ “connections” on Linkedin. Now certainly a subset of these groups constitutes actual friends or connections, and more than a few of my actual friends or contacts aren’t even on these lists. Never thought any of it mattered quite frankly.

Zen RocksHow does one turn these into opportunity? Real opportunity? In surprising ways it turns out.

At the risk of more disclosure, in the Northeast US, rocks form a big part of the landscape. Stick a shovel in the ground, and without any doubt the first thing you hit is a rock. Needless to say they dot the landscape, and my landscape in particular.

I pile them up. Quick, easy, and relatively permanent landscaping, no digging required, no seasonal planning, and plays to a short attention span. Here is a completed masterpiece. Pretty Zen right?

Proud of my work, I posted it to Facebook, lets just say a very rare event. One of my “Friends” “Liked” it. I sat next to him in high school. He was really smart… A “geek”, and, well, it takes one to know one. It’s been more than 30 years since we’d had any meaningful dialog, hardly a friend.

Turns out, he works on very high performance databases, the very kind that helps sites like Facebook and Linkedin tell you who you ‘might know’ and want to ‘friend’ or ‘connect’ with. Now we’re talking, who really cares if we’re friends.

In fact, the algorithms and databases required to manage these types of networks and connections are pretty sophisticated. It used to be easy, patient X with healthcare system Y, radiology group Z and so on… That’s all changing, and new forms of technologies and databases will be required to help the Healthcare world connect doctors, patients, medical histories, and disease databases in complex ways our new world requires.

Not sure how to label it, but perhaps its an opportunity.