Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Having been online for ages (my first browser was the CERN line mode browser), I'm just beginning to explore blogs; I hope some of you reading this will help by joining me in a conversation.

Social networking is a big deal in some circles these days, and I'm trying it out, too. Thanks to a recommendation from a colleague, I've created a profile at LinkedIn, but I'm curious what it's really good for. Is it

  1. a videogame for consultants, where the goal is to get as many links as possible and you get 4 extra points for each endorsement

  2. a way to burn time that feels a bit like business development when you can't think of anything else to do

  3. a way to make others feel bad when they only have x links and you have y links (where y is much greater than x!)

  4. a way to get people to ask you to help them in exchange for money

  5. a way to ask others if they will provide you some money in exchange for some sort of legally available services

  6. a way to pay LinkedIn exhorbitant fees after we become dependent on its connections and endorsements and they start to charge for it

  7. (there's got to be at least one sinister thought :-) a way for them to capture a contact database for their next great online retail venture

I know it can do the first; I'm hoping to figure out how to make 4. or 5. work without spending so much time that it isn't cost-effective. When I got started in this, Dutch Driver and others were insistent it was the greatest thing ever (well, the exaggeration is mine), but I couldn't get the benefit except that I could connect to lots of
others, as if that were my final goal.

So, any brilliant ideas? It lacks a blog, wiki, or threaded conversation space, which could generate interest. It seems mostly good for addressing impulses of the sort, "I think I'd like to [do business with | get hired by | interview | ...] someone at XYZ
company, but I don't know anyone there who will give me the time of day, and I can't email everyone in my address book to ask if they know someone 'cause they'll eventually get mad at me. Ah! I can let LinkedIn see if I know someone [who knows someone ...] at XYZ Company." Have any of you turned LinkedIn or any of its cousins into productive tools for achieving your business purpose?


Blogger Dutch said...

LinkedIn has a YahooGroup at:

I keep trying to convince the LinkedIn crew that they need a blog or forum for users on their site. I hear a thaw but no cracks in the ice, yet.

16 March, 2005 05:22  
Blogger Bill Harris said...

Thanks, Dutch! I just signed up; I'll see what it brings.

As for the idea of a forum, check out Glenda Eoyang's CDE model. LinkedIn would seem to enable a decent sized Container with potentially commensurate significant Differences among people in each person's Container (contact list), but the tool doesn't offer much for transforming Exchanges. In Glenda's model, to foster self-organization, you need reasonable levels of C, D, and E, and they need to be commensurate.

That notion applies to more than just LinkedIn, by the way. Coping with Chaos: Seven Simple Tools speaks about its application to a broad range of organizational issues.

16 March, 2005 12:46  

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