While we're off the topic of outsourcing, I've been having some great conversations about social networking this week. Jonathan Yarmis has joined AMR Research to lead the analyst charge in studying this space and has some great perspectives on where social networking is headed - look out for his research in the coming months. New social media networking tools like Twitter and Snitter are enabling people to have multiple interactions with their networks where immediate synchronicity isn't essential. Instant messenger clients, i.e. Skype, Yahoo, MSN, can be intrusive to people who have a heavy work schedule, and these new tools are more adaptable to people lives and work environments. We have to remember, this all really started with good ol' LinkedIn, which has generated a powerful network of professionals who are connected on the Internet. The big challenge of the Twitters of this world is to get the less tech-savvy people to sign-up (i.e. 98% of the LinkedIn network). LinkedIn kept it relative simple - just copy and paste your resume into a form and you're away. So while LinkedIn is positively antiquated these days, it is the one tool that has pretty much everyone on it... and has some great features like Q&A where you can pose questions to huge networks of people interested in that topic. It's a powerful tool when you can get 50 or so people offering opinions and advice on business issues such as offshoring, or IT questions to solve immediate problems.
I'll leave you with a great LinkedIn debate from over a year ago on Vinnie Mirchandani's deal architect where I delivered my LinkedIn tips:
a) Avoid inviting people who work for a competitor. If they're smart they'll go through your contacts in 5 mins;
b) NEVER let a headhunter in. They'll irritate the hell out of you trying to connect to anyone senior you know;
c) Don't accept invitations from people who are either idiots, or very junior. Your contact collection is a prize tool (and you want it to look good when you're enticing a prized new acquaintance) and you don't want any rotten apples in there...:
d) If someone invites you, NEVER decline the invitation, just ignore it. If you decline, they will see it on their records. It's worse than "blocking" someone from your IM and getting caught out. You will have an enemy for life;
e) Avoid technology luddites who never use any cool tech tools. They will call you up and make a huge deal about how to use the damn thing - you'll be there doing help-desk for hours. Only focus on current LinkedIn users unless it's someone you need to show off your network to....;
f) Always decline the LinkedIn spammer...you know the types who just go after everyone in the world;
g) Don't make your network inaccessible to everyone. This just p****s everyone else off and defeats the purpose of the whole thing. It's a bit like security-enabling your wireless LAN (I'll save that debate for another time);
g) Avoid sales/BD people who have limited contacts or are not on LinkedIn at all. Any sales person worth his or her salt uses LinkedIn. If they don't, they suck. If you're interviewing a salesperson who isn't on it, don't hire them;
h) Think twice when being invited from the "company LinkedInner". Those are the folks who only invite people from their own firm 'cause they don't know anyone in their industry.....;
i) Endorse people - it's fun and they'll love you for it.