For the last few weeks I’ve been engaged in an e-mail conversation with one of my favorite users, Jeroen, from the eastern Netherlands. I say he is one of my favorites because he continually asks “why” and “how,” and has suggestions on how to impove JibberJobber. Some of the future enhancements implemented will be because of his suggestions (feel free to submit your suggestions also)!
Our relationship started just a few weeks ago with a simple e-mail – he suggested something and I replied. As e-mails went back and forth our relationship grew. I was impressed because he cared enough about my passion to want it improved. He also wanted to talk about some of the philosophy behind networking (like, “why/when do you change the rank of a network contact?” (if you have read Never Eat Alone some of this should sound familiar to you)).
Because of the interest that Jeroen shows, and the dialogue that we’ve had, our relationship is deeper than with someone who may have just e-mailed me and not had much to say. That’s not a good or a bad thing, it’s just a different relationship.
I would rank Jeroen as a four-star relationship right now. Even though we’ve only known each other for a short period of time, the level of discussion we’ve had (and the interest he’s taken) merits a stronger ranking.
I would rank the person who just e-mailed me yesterday saying that they really like JibberJobber and are interested in sending people my way as a one star – this is based on just having one e-mail come in and not having a chance to develop the relationship. To me, one star means there is room for improvement – and I want to do what I can to move that relationship forward.
The key to ranking is that it’s all subjective – I don’t pretend to offer a methodology or science behind it. It has to be flexible enough to allow you to make the ultimate decision – so we offer five stars and you can rank the relationship how you want.
Note that I use the contact ranking to rank the strength of the relationship. I am not ranking how powerful the person is, or how bad I want to know them (or them know me). I’m ranking how strong our relationship is. This is why the Network Relationship Goals works (premium feature) – It allows me to take, for example, 35% of my one-star relationships and work to improve them over the next 40 days (or something like that – you set the parameters).
One last question – Jeroen asks when do I downgrade a relationship? That is, when do I move a ranking from four-star to two-star?
Again, realize this is subjective. In the last year there may have been one or two people that I’ve downgraded in my own network. They were downgraded after specific incidents – something happened where I felt a violation of trust or something like that. These are not the typical goofy things we face with normal human interaction – these were blatant offenses where I felt hurt, and I wanted to pull back a little.
Would I downgrade a relationship because we have not communicated for a long time? No. I fell “out of touch” with one of my best friends (who actually reads my blog) for many years. But when we talk and e-mail, however infrequent, we seem to pick up where we left off. A long pause in communication has not been a reason for me to downgrade a relationship.
So there you go, I hope this helps understand what I consider to be one of the most important aspects of JibberJobber.