Craving Noise Over the Signal

There has been a lot of discussion about signal vs. noise and providing value in online communications.  Yesterday, Deb Ng wrote about why social media noise is good that sparked a good offline conversation with Andy Kaufman and I.

Recently, my social networking time has been limited. A big part of it is being crazy busy with SMMI operations but I have also found that I am hesitant to create too much “noise” and so therefore I step back from my communications.  As a result, I not only have produced less noise, I also have produced less signal.

I don’t and haven’t pushed my foursquare checkins to twitter or facebook unless I have a specific reason.  I monitor the noise that I make.  But recently, I have taken that a step further for fear of generating too much noise and not enough signal.

Do I need to censor myself as much as I have?  I feel like I have been missing out on conversations I used to have.  I am talking more in back channels, not because I am trying to be exclusive, but for fear of making too noise, which means I have been meeting fewer people.

Yesterday, I logged in for some scheduled social networking time and scoured my tweet stream for conversation.  All I got was “signal”.  Nuggets of value, links, huge booming words of wisdom, but I didn’t want to read all business at that point in time. I wanted conversation. 

Where was the conversation? 

Could I find one to jump in to and engage?  It was a struggle to find someone to talk to.  I am guessing lots of other people are worried about making too much noise. 

Noise does not have to be bad.  Noise can be the catalyst to conversation.  Noise can be the catalyst to identifying a common interest. Some of my most important business deals have occurred after initiating casual conversation.  I am not just talking about online.  Have you ever been to a party and found out someone else graduated from the same college, likes the same music, or is a raving fan of the same sports team?  There are times when it is pure business, and there are times when common interests create a bond that enables a deeper connection and a deeper trust.  When we are looking at people to do business with, we seek out people we trust.

Conversation creates an opportunity to generate a deeper level of trust that can lead to more powerful personal and professional relationships.  That conversation won’t close a sale most likely, but it might start the process of one.

Should we be cautious that our noise isn’t excessive?  Absolutely.  Should we focus only on making signal?  I don’t think so.

Converse with me.  I crave it.