Three might make a crowd, but maybe that is a good thing…

I was just lying in bed reflecting upon one of the notions expressed in an earlier post regarding why women who seek and acquire lots of sex are shunned whilst their male counterparts are celebrated. The notion in question is this value people hold and place on people in regards to attraction.

I would like to express first of all, that although the following thoughts are rooted in attraction for the sexual means, I do believe the ideas are translatable into all walks of life, be it around the board room, on the shooting range with the lads or even your Facebook profile.

As posted earlier, we hold a certain value in attraction. Those with more value are more attractive, and less attractive people are less valuable. This is reflected the same way that a Ford Fiesta is far less valuable than a Ford Shelby GT Mustang. We also established that in the dating game, men are buyers and women are sellers. Hence a woman’s value is diminished if more men can afford her value. And men who are able to sleep around are celebrated for having such higher buying power than other less successful men.

This show of value is observed after the transactions, ie. Attraction is successful: reciprocal flirting, kissing, petting, bedding etc. It does not explain why one man is more attractive than another before he has proved himself. It also implies that as a man enters the buyers’ market, he has absolutely no recorded success and so based on this model, is valueless and will always fall short of the competition of a more successful older man. This model would render it impossible for any man to leave the starting blocks under the assumption that there will always be a more successful older man in the market. Impossible: apart from in the case where a completely worthless female enters the market, for instance someone who will sell herself for any man – the ultimate slut for arguments sake. That being said, success over a transaction which held no value will not improve the buying power or worth of the inexperienced younger male.

This conundrum does add light to why you often see girls dating slightly older boys in high school. The boys in their year group have no buying power and are worthless to the girl. They cannot afford their attention persé.

This post intends to answer the conundrum in highlighting a means to show worth whilst there is asymmetric information regarding the entity’s transaction history. I will explain my musings in the dating game first, but then extend the applications to non-sexual encounters which could be made useful in the world of work etc.

Referrals are a strong influence on people’s decision making. With no information from personal experience, it is our nature to take inferences from our surroundings to build a point of opinion. Word of mouth is the top of any marketers’ “to do” list when launching a new product. If you get people talking about something, and it is positive chatter they are making then it is not just cheap marketing, but successful.

I think a very topical example of the power of the referral at the time I write this is the popularity of pop sensation Justin Bieber. I don’t think his success is based on performing prowess alone. He holds a place in the top 5 most followed Twitter accounts, and it is the exact reason why he continues to attract massive crowds to sell out concerts. He is talented, yes, but it is the millions of screaming fans which multiply his success.

So if we go down this avenue, every time we make an interaction with somebody new, we are releasing a new product into their market. In the consumer market this might involve a marketing strategy involving all mediums from television advertisements, to bill board displays, flyers and online marketing/solus mail shots. Unfortunately in the day to day environment as we go about our lives, it is not customary or culturally feasible to advertise ourselves so unashamedly as to produce flyers and email photos of ourselves and our attributes. Besides from how we dress and groom ourselves, the only marketing we can control before we make initial interaction is our network of referrals.

I cannot expect anyone to explicitly advertise a new product by talking directly to new consumers about the value of the product. The solution must not be so intrusive; it will have to be implicit.

So how do we implicitly suggest from a distance the value we hold in the eyes of others who will seemingly have more information than the new consumer? The answer lies in the company you keep. The value we have falls back on to the trusty supply/demand graph. When we are low in supply and high in demand, the value rises. If we increase the supply, our value diminishes, as we can see in the slut vs. stud argument. If we raise our demand, we raise our value also.

Surround yourself with people of the opposite sex. In the onlooker’s eyes, these will operate as referees who have more information. If the referees seem to enjoy your company, you will generate more demand. If you limit your supply, this will maintain a high value. Needless to say, the more referees we have the more popular we appear leading to continued growth in demand and value.

How often is a man put off from a woman when he hears his friend say that she isn’t very pretty in his eyes? Or how often is a woman put off from a man because they hear a bad rumour about them? The way our environment gives us information has a huge bearing on how we think.

The conclusion of this post states that in order to increase value, we must find a way to get people to give us a good referral. One way is to appear popular. It will be interesting to find a way to measure whether the most popular girl at school is popular because she is very likeable, or is it because everybody talks about her being the most popular girl at school. Is the popularity linked to referrals or is it based purely on visible assets (eg. kindness, charisma, prettiness, intelligence, etc)?

Now how do we translate this out of the world of sex? It is quite simple. We need to increase our demand in order to raise our value. We have limitations in the information we can offer because of the distance from the consumer. Our solutions lie in our appearance, (discussed later in another post), and in our referrals.

Our referrals can be displayed in a range of ways. It might be the value of the referees on linked in, for example the value we place on a 1st connection to a CEO of a major bank is rather high. The value we place on a positive recommendation is even higher from the mentioned CEO of a major bank. We even derive some value from the number of connections on LinkedIn. It is common to hear people brag about how many friends they have on Facebook – and then a regular retort heard would be challenging how many of those friends are real friends. How many followers do you have on Twitter right now? And how many people read your blog? Why do you care?

This interchange of popularity is our culture’s measure of success in referrals. The more people associated with an individual, the higher the value we place on them, regardless of holding no other pieces of information about them.

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