Seth Godin had an awesome blog post today about aiming for infinity in your outreach – that is, no number of fans is ever enough. No number is really ever satisfying.

There is a really important lesson between the lines of Seth’s blog post: you don’t have to reach everybody. Nobody can reach everybody. So, I put it to you:

You just have to reach one.

One really dedicated, committed fan. Make them feel special, because they are special. They’re an activator – and you only need one.

To clarify: Activation = Attention + Action – a simplification of the AIDA model.

Our brains can only hold a certain number of connections to the people that matter at once, it’s called Dunbar’s number. And we ignore this fact as we reach for increasingly ridiculous numbers of subscribers, followers, friends, fans, and views – like they’re marshmallows in a game of chubby bunny. We forget that at some point, with enough marshmallows shoved in your pie hole, you choke. You can’t possibly please or activate more than Dunbar’s number at any given time, because folks who want to interact with you – and are subsequently ignored because your bandwidth is too low – will not activate.

Here’s what happens, though, when you reach for one: you use one of your Dunbar’s number slots for this person. You make them feel valued and become an activator for them – because they’re buying from you, they’re activated, they’re participating. In turn, they use a Dunbar slot for you – but they also spread your information to their other Dunbar connections. That is the only way you ever increase your network beyond your Dunbar connections. That’s it. The only way.

Going beyond your significant other, family, friends, and colleagues, you only have so many Dunbar slots to utilize for building your business network. You maybe have 25-50 Dunbar-level connections to use – and all of them can be activators, given that they’re the right people that should be in those Dunbar slots. As an aside, I advocate relentlessly cutting non-activators out of your life as fast as possible – you must become an activator for your own activators, or they’ll stop. I would guess that for most people, the actual number is closer to 5. We’ve all heard that saying: you are the amalgamation of the 5 closest people to you.

That sure as hell takes the pressure off, doesn’t it? At maximum capacity, you only ever have to delight 5 folks at a time.

This is what social media is. It’s not a race for fans, followers, friends, views, or subscribers, like those things are a scarce and limited resource. They’re not. Here’s what is rare: actual relationships that require and earn attention from both parties.

Social media allows us to break through the barriers that once existed between us and those five activators. The only thing big numbers allow you to do is find and replace potential activators faster – beneficial, but not a necessity; and certainly not something worth placing significant effort toward.

How will the knowledge that you only need one activator (and can only ever delight 5) change your business? And how are you going to become a better activator for someone you believe in?

(Header photo: Hugs)