On Sunday a recent chain of Tweets spurred my friend Bryn Morgan to make a series of personality related posts to his Brynovation blog. First off, the issue of overwhelming self confidence in social media. Bryn’s thoughts are that there are numerous people who suffer vastly overinflated egos and may actually believe themselves to carry far greater weight than they do, a situation that’s further antagonised by people’s general friendly code of conduct in reciprocating follows. To paraphrase Bryn, show your confidence after hard work, not before it.

In general I agree. It may well be the case that there are good offline reasons as to why someone feels good about themselves, yet I’m a strong fan of the old saying:

“A classic case of enthusiasm mistaken for ability”

I also feel that tools like Klout further compound this issue. Whilst it’s all lovely to think that we’re well received by our peers, the process of alignment, rappore and persuasiveness are largely semantic constructs that aren’t well represented by binary interactions. A retweet may convey some level of this, however many of the people I’m engaging with are highly skilled professionals, innovators and entrepreneurs. There’s clearly a lot more to the conversation than a turbocharged personal AdWords system.

One of the theories I’m working on is that of “my eco-system”. Twitter is far bigger an ocean than my little rock pool; however mine is filled with life. Yes, there are the teeming schools that flow through all following the same path and these are of interest not so much as individuals but as trends. And true there are plenty of jellyfish that just seem to have been washed up here and will be carried on wherever else the current flows.

There are also whales lurking on the distance, entities so big I could never change them although we inhabit the same space. I swim in the wake left by them and we all need to be concious that they could change the tide and drag us out to sea. Brands, media channels and technology companies are great examples of the whales though there are occasional individuals too.

More interesting to me are the brightly coloured fish, some of whom are so brightly coloured because they are displaying courting colours. They are the experts and collaborators, the innovators and the entrepreneurs looking to signal their intentions to like minds. It’s here that the best displays of Social skill are to be found. I’ve met people who’ve given generously to me of their expertise in such a way it’s underlined to me their skill. Rest assured I know that these are the cleaner fish of my reef; I’ll visit them or send friends their way as soon as I know there is call for their service. I’m interested in all of those classes of individuals for two way relationships as well as comraderie – let’s not forget that we are the people here writing a new chapter in history, right? Surely that alone is reason enough to foster a spirit of friendship?!

There are also bigger fish and these have a more elaborate courting pattern! It begins from far further off yet still requires the same fundamental foundation of trust to be developed. Time is always a factor in that as much as is timeliness. Love takes time doesn’t it?

I really wouldn’t want to change anyone’s dance too much and I certainly hope it doesn’t turn into a seas of synchronised swimming! Whatever you are doing, it’s a magnifying glass onto you and the thoughts that drive you. Whatever you say is always a bigger reflection of your perception of the world than of the world itself. You have every right to be who you are and nothing I say need change that.

Social Media lends itself to great negotiators, connectors and friends much more than it does shameless attention seekers. Those with the first three skills can add massive value to their followers and truly create a network subject to Metcalfe’s Law. Be honest and true to yourself and keep an open eye to opportunities to enrich your your followers and the trust network will reciprocate. Those who believe that attention, visibility and weblebrity are the fundamentals to success, are the weakest link. Unfollow.

Once you’ve reached critical mass, keeping your part of the ocean healthy is more important than always seeking to grow. Quality counts more than quantity. Biting on a fish bigger than you can swallow is a clear sign of faux weblebrity.

How are you maintaining your network quality on Twitter and other social networks? Have you thoughts or tips to share? Let me know and I’m happy to post your comments and link back here.