GAP Forum and increasing links in a social network

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —April 14, 2006
Filed in Communication

I was invited to attend the GAP Forum on Leveraging Networks in Business last week and caught up with some old friends like John Finnigan and Robert Kay. The two days were focussed on getting an interesting group together to work out ways to apply network theory and practice in a business and trade context.

John’s presentation on network theory got me thinking. Particularly the idea of network avalanches—how connectivity in a network progresses in sharp transitions rather than gradually (this feature of a network is what worries people about avian flu). I’m sure Andrew will talk about this phenomena at his seminar about making social network analysis more social, so I wont say more about it here. It did get me thinking about ways we can create new links in a network. Please feel free to suggest others.

  • communities of practice
  • open space facilitation
  • training course cohorts
  • out-placements and secondments
  • being able to express multiple identities at work (I’ll talk more about this idea in another post)
  • membership of clubs

Partly tongue in cheek, Andrew suggested that the person running the social club raffle has a good opportunity to form new social ties. But I think a social tie’s strength (remembering the strength of weak ties) relies on shared experience and perhaps the amount of pain or pleasure you’ve shared. I remember hiking up Pigeon House mountain with 4 guys, 2 or whom I only knew briefly before the walk. We left late, it started raining, the last 100 metres involved climbing up rusted and rickety ladders and we didn’t take any food. Needless to say the walk was miserable but the friendships are enduring.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. At the end of the day, it all comes down to authenticity and credibility. Rare and valuable commodities in the age of pokes, cyber kisses, applications, and the tons of sleaze and phony member profiles dumped on us.
    With all respect to my Facebook buddies, and to all my other mates on all my other social networks, but to all those who ‘request’ to be my friend because you like My Profile I say: let’s not get carried away here. I usually don’t make friends because we once had the same boss, share a Hotmail contact or because, spare me, you “poke” me. Pelease.
    If you want to be my friend, come and meet me in real life. Let’s have a chat. Err, down at the local pub I mean. Yours or mine. Or join me on next weekends’ bushwalk around the Inner West Bay!
    What is so social about Facebook, or MySpace, or Bebo or Linkedin anyway? Social. Noun: a party of people assembled to promote sociability and communal activity. Adjective: 1. marked by friendly companionship with others; “a social cup of coffee”;2. living together or enjoying life in communities or organized groups; “human beings are social animals”; “spent a relaxed social evening”. (Source: World Reference.
    The good news, for Australians and visitors, is that there now is a website that lives up to what one may expect from a self proclaimed social site: connecting people to meet for a realcup of coffee. Or for a game of soccer at Centennial Park, or a games night at Chris’ place. Or a poke at mine 😉 Meet – a local, Australian owned and run networking site that is taking ‘social networking’ from cyberspace into a real-life world. offers easy to use tools for people to connect with each other based around sporting, cultural or recreational activities. The activity might be a one-off, like finding a couple of buddies for a kayaking trip up Brisbane River. Others get together regularly, like reading groups. If members can’t find what they’re looking for, they can create a group or activity of their own and invite others to join. Members can start activity groups or build up contact lists (activity networks) of people who may be interested to share real life activities. Anything goes, from bushwalking to white water weekends to art appreciation or Friday night drinks after work.
    In just 2,5 years Getalife has grown, via word of mouth, to 30,000 members who have created more than 7500 activities and 1000 active interest groups. On any given day, Getalife’s calendar now features more than 250 upcoming events.
    It is obvious that struck a cord in the hearts and minds of singles, couples, travelers, migrants and just ordinary city-slickers who are not attracted to formal social clubs, dating sites, commercial tour operators or experience retailers. Instead, they look for alternative, contemporary and independent ways to connect with people in real life, get involved in a wide range of activities, meet people and perhaps find ‘love and relationship’ on their own terms. Whenever, wherever, whatever.
    At Getalife, you get personally invited by real members to real events. Not because you fit profile of some marketing campaign or sales prospect, but simply because the organizer of the event enjoys your company.
    On Getalife, there is little to do for people just out for some online entertainment. No bells and whisles, no fancy flash or Ajax, or fad Web 2.0 applications and widgets. The site wants its users to logout, get out and do stuff!
    Besides, the subscription rates, albeit low, seem to be doing a good job at keeping the jokers away.
    Serial networkers, advertisers and web-publishers drooling at the thought of being at the centre of a worldwide web of contacts, consumers and visitors may like to try (to) getalife.

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