Your Social Network: “Everyone’s a Hero in Their Own Way”

I really hate mixing singular and plural pronouns in my title, but if you catch my allusion, well, it was worth it. If you don’t, crawl out from under your rock, take some time out of work-related things, and watch some Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (on iTunes or Hulu or wherever). Last week when I blogged about arbitrary rules for following and friending, we had quite the discussion over who to follow and who not to follow. Previously, I mentioned that one of my goals forwas to expand my personal network.

This week, I’ve stolen the Sing-Along Blog concept and Captain Hammer’s “Everyone’s a Hero” song to make a case for expanding your social network…

  1. The Obvious Heroes: These are the people who have obvious things in common with you. They do what you do, they know what you know, they talk your talk, blah blah blah. They may have some useful information for you from time to time. They carry a lot of street cred. They look really good as friends and followers, don’t they? (“I don’t go to the gym, I’m just naturally like this.”) I also don’t need to say anything more to convince you to add them.
  2. The Optimists: How can we resist surrounding ourselves with positive people? They are great for offering encouragement when you need it. (“Even in the darkness every color can be found.”) There is nothing wrong with having an optimist among your followers to raise the spirits of any group, but make sure you balance your network…
  3. The Anti-Heros: Last month I was at a local breakfast meet-up, and heard this group referred to as the “usual disgruntleds”. At first glance, people who speak up and are critical may seem to be red-flags. Your gut reaction may be to avoid them in social networks, work projects, or even hiring. However, I believe that many people that fall into this category are passionate about their work and are speaking out to try to effect change. (“Destroying the status quo, because the status is not quo.”) If they did not care, they would give up and shut up. (As an aside, I recently found out the acronym for the apathetic group who have given up hope, is SUDS, or Show Up Don’t Steal. FYI, I have little interest in SUDS and they have little interest in networking.) Anti-Heroes are the canaries in the coal mines, adding a few to a group helps you find the holes in a plan and gives you larger insight into what those who remain silent are afraid to say. Optimists are great for morale, but without the Anti-Heroes you’d have an echo chamber for your ideas.
  4. The Sheeple: And finally, there is everyone else. These are people who don’t have anything to do with your work. Or they work with you, but they don’t talk about work. They have lives and interests outside of work but share something in common with you. Why should you have any interest in them? While your heroes know what you know, the Sheeple know things you don’t know. They extend your network to areas of knowledge just beyond your reach. Let’s face it, your Heroes are going to beat you to most of the good ideas coming from specialization, but with enough Sheeple working with you, you might have a lead or come up with a multidisciplinary angle that the Heroes overlooked. (“You, and you, and mostly me!—And you!”)

4 Responses to “Your Social Network: “Everyone’s a Hero in Their Own Way””

  1. Says:

    Nice breakdown of categories! Let’s not forget that subset of Sheeple, though, the ones who are there “for entertainment purposes only” (@wilw and @greggrunberg come to mind as examples). =)

  2. Says:

    Thanks, Michelle. You’re right. Even the people who are fun to follow and the content we consume for entertainment has value.

    When we “get a life” outside of work, we find more ways to connect with the people at work who also have lives outside of work and build stronger bonds.

    I’m more comfortable pitching crazy ideas with people I go connect with at tweetmeets/tweetups or via common interests and goofing around, than with someone who I am all business with.

  3. Says:


    Thanks for the post. How many ‘sheeple’ do you think have twitter accounts? :-)


  4. Says:

    Thanks, Brad.

    The answer is lot. In addition to being a Higher Ed blogger, I’m a mommy blogger. (I hate that term, but there I said it.) Do you know there are 6,800 mommy bloggers (and daddy bloggers) just on Twitter Moms Ning group?

    I’ve met some really valuable connections there who are IT people, gamers, writers, librarians, homeschoolers, marketers, but we share another common interest: blogging about our kids.