How I Use Little Bird to be Smarter, Richer & More Famous

Posted by Nate Angell on Mar 27, 2013 12:38:00 AM

I joined Little Bird after working diligently for a long time to build my social capital the old-fashioned way: making connections in my chosen field organically over years. It's the same process people have been using to raise their stature forever: around the campfire, on the village green, at cocktail parties, or in social media.Now I'm starting a new chapter in life and career with new focuses: will I start all over again?

Thanks to the science of Little Bird (that feels a lot like magic), I'm starting my new journey waaay farther down the path.

For starters, the first Little Bird report I created put all my prior work and my new, looming need to broaden my horizons in dramatic perspective. In one fell swoop, Little Bird demonstrated its accuracy, encapsulated my history, underscored that authentic engagement pays off, and gave me a dramatic head start in building my new career.


It was simple: I created a Little Bird report on the topic of my previous focus, the Sakai open source learning and collaboration project. In mere minutes, right before my eyes, Little Bird showed me Sakai's social network: no one missing, everyone ordered aright based on the effort they had put into building social capital in the Sakai community online. And lo and behold, who did Little Bird identify as the most interconnected person online? Me.


I'm not highlighting my place as giant blue dot in Little Bird's report on Sakai to toot my own horn. Many in Sakai have contributed far more valuable efforts to that community than I. What's important is that without ever knowing about me, or Sakai, or any other person or organization in the Sakai community, Little Bird was able to produce an entirely reliable portrait of a community, based on the effort each member had made to engage authentically in social media.

With one look at that report I was convinced that:

  1. The effort I had put into connecting to and engaging with the broadest possible range of Sakai community members built my knowledge, influence, and career in that community dramatically.
  2. Little Bird's science (or magic) was flawless.
  3. I could use Little Bird to engage in new communities—using exactly the same authentic practices I developed in Sakai—but with the dramatic head start of knowing in advance how a new community was shaped and who I should engage with first to learn and connect.

Doing New Business

When we printed our first business cards at Little Bird, we established the practice that each of us would pick three communities that we belonged to or aspired to join and put them alongside our contact information. I picked education (a community I already belong to and a topic which I care deeply about), critical theory (a discipline that has organized my thinking life), and growth hacking (a practice that I must master in my new position).


Our cards are not just a gimmick: I now use Little Bird reports on each of these topics to learn more, engage directly with leading insiders, and thereby raise my own stature and further my knowledge, interests, and career—just like I did with Sakai, but thanks to Little Bird, starting at the top rather than from scratch.

Just today, my Little Bird reports on these three topics led me to Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells talking about how urban space and cyberspace combine in modern political movements, @FailedArch's compelling post on the poetry of architectural decay, @monk51295's multimedia tour of thinking on how learning has evolved over the ages, and @andrewchen's post on why startups should focus on the quickest path to product-market fit. And that was just today.

I'm just a small dot in these communities right now. But with Little Bird's guidance, every day, with a single click, I'm able to sit at the feet of the big blue dots in each of these communities: learning, establishing new relationships, and growing my own experience and social stature.

Since when do dots have feet, you ask? When they help you climb mountains.

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