Part 1 - Propinquity - The Relationship Is The Message


Propinquity describes various types of relationships in 4 main categories:

  1. Industry/Occupational Propinquity – where similar people working in the same field or job tend to be attracted to one another.

  2. Residential Propinquity – where people living in the same area or within neighborhoods of each other tend to come together.

  3. Acquaintance Propinquity – a form of proximity in existence when friends tend to have a special bond of interpersonal attraction.

And... in today’s world we have:

  1. Virtual Propinquity – Online interactions that facilitate instant and close interactions with people despite a lack of physical presence. People who are connected through various social media and internet applications.

Wanting to turn me into a social media evangelist a friend gave me a reading list comprised of: Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business – Updated Edition (2012) by Erik Qualman; and Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust (2010) by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Rising to the challenge, I took on the assignment with great fervor and started reading one book after the other.

After completing my mandatory reading, I explored the concept of propinquity and found how I could relate this back to how social media can be used in business. Propinquity is an old Middle English word that describes a state of being close to someone or something. My research revealed two books that relate very well to social media: The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Friedman (2007); and Six Pixels of Separation : Everyone is Connected : Connect Your Business to Everyone (2010) by Mitch Joel.


Social media has taken on new and unsuspecting uses to allow us to convey information, inform one another and be close for whatever reason is required. 
All of this on-line communication has made this a transparent world, which has it’s benefits and liabilities. Qualman maintains this is a self policing world, where the community keeps a watchful eye on one another; making sure that no one gets too out of line. The communication taking place on social media shouldn’t be considered as meaningless banter or snipping, but should be viewed by businesses as a gold mine of useful information on product glitches, customer service or for developing and refining new and existing products.

In business as in life, I’ve learned that people don’t complain, they just go away. If people complain on a social media platform, then the problem can be addressed and hopefully resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. When you're open to hearing complaints directly then at least you know what’s happening out there in the world-wide-web.

Trust Agents:

Brogan and Smith state quite simply that social media is an online communication tool which is an easy and inexpensive way to connect with people – either to build new relationships or, ideally, to further develop those you’ve established offline. 
Your presence needs to be guided by integrity, honesty and purpose, leading towards establishing a level of trust. All successful relationships online (and off) are about trust. 
Think of every new blog you’re visiting, or online group you’re entering as a party where you don’t know anyone. Introduce yourself, listen, and look for opportunities to build real connections. Be human first. The business will follow. 
You need to make it easy for like-minded tribe members to pick-up your ideas and carry them in their online travels. Make an idea easy to share (repost, retweet, etc.) 
Communicate with your tribe regularly. Pick a format and be consistent.

When I complimented both @ChrisBrogan and @Julien regarding their book, Chris Brogan actually tweeted me back! Practicing what he preaches.

The World Is Flat:

Today’s world of commerce is interconnected and boundaries are becoming irrelevant. Since global competition is here to stay we need to stop seeing each other as competition, but rather see what each country has to offer as a specialty and how we can use that specialty to our maximum advantage in accomplishing our business objectives

Six Pixels of Separation:

Joel helps you discover that with all the information that we generate, “you” are now the media and in control of managing your “personal brand” so that it is your most powerful ally not your enemy, this means paying close attention to the information that is presented about you on the world wide web 
Focus on building a community and not just traffic. Traffic may get attention but it doesn’t necessarily equal trust. 
Community and trust building requires that you give abundantly of yourself via content and genuine personal interest. Help others and build relationships. The business will follow. A good rule of thumb is for every four updates or posts that you create in your online social circles (outside of your dedicated blog), you can self-promote once.

Since my immersion in the social web, I can now see that by giving my time and attention to social media, I reap enhanced visibility for my company, hence attracting more like minded people and acquiring more business while doing the work that I love.

It takes more than social media to build a business. All this research into virtual propinquity has provided eye-opening possibilities.

And my exploration into the media itself is far from over.

It has extended my reach and visibility with a voice to share myself. It’s also introduced me to some amazing people. Time will tell if all this effort will turn into business.

My conclusion: The media is the vehicle and the relationship IS STILL the message. Am I social media evangelist? Let’s just say I endorse it, but am no evangelist.


Dolores is an Interior Designer located in Toronto, Cananda. She loves creating unique WOW spaces for living, working and playing. Drop her an e-mail to say hello and let her know what you thought of this blog post.