Greg Hoffman



Social Networking - Does it work?

I've started and stopped this post more times than I will admit this year. But I finally want an answer. From 2001-2004 there was a craze sweeping the internet almost as fast as the blog culture. It was social networking. Ryze. LinkedIn. Friendster. Ecademy. Orkut. Spoke. etc.

The craze was focused on connecting with as many contacts as possible so that one day, when you really need to find someone, there would be a one or two degree of separation betweem you and them. All you needed to do was to ask your contact for an introduction. What a cool concept. I bought in hook, line and sinker in 2002-2003, starting with Ryze. But by mid 2004, and after the total bust of the Google Orkut site, it all died down as far as I was concerned.

I've kept up with Ryze and LinkedIn. I like them the most. Ryze has a great interface and is more interesting socially. Their forums are highly effective. LinkedIn is the best contact site though.

My LinkedIn account has more than 90 connections and my degree of separation is pretty darn good. However, it failed me last week. I needed a quick connection after amazingly finding the exact person I needed to contact about a certain project. I sent the message to contact number one on Thursday and I called him to cheat the system a bit and make sure he was going to send it through. No problem. Well, by Friday nothing. So I withdrew the request and went to contact #2 and asked him for help. Over the weekend, nothing. By Monday, I withdrew that one and sent my final plea to contact #3.

On Tuesday morning, when I started working on the project, I found that all of the messages had gone through. LinkedIn never confirmed this with me. HOW EMBARRASSING! Thanks LinkedIn.

So my question is, does social networking work for you? I personally know people that have started consultant shops based on their thousands of connections. They either use the social network as a personal sales tool or they act as middlemen connecting the right businesses to businesses.

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Blogger Thom Singer said...

I have found linkedin and the others to be just another tool to networking (like a roledex, CRM software, business cards, nametags, notecards, etc...).

Those that see these systems as a more than that are those that are not really good at networking to begin with. Nothing can trump the personal touch, and sending requests to meet someone three people removed is not really strong introduction.

I find if I see someone I am directly linked to knows some I want to meet, then I will call my friend and ask for a direct introduction, bypassing the linked in system to make the connection.

Your network can be a good tool, but you have to be careful how you market those connections....or you might hurt those relationships.

12:19 PM  

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