Thursday, January 31, 2008

Analysis of The Relationship Economy Model

Businesses that capitalize on and thrive in The Relationship Economy will not use a business model that resembles that of a traditional business. The businesses that have been retrofitted for The Relationship Economy will have the basic building blocks of traditional business models, addressing their Infrastructure, Offering, Customers, and Finances, but there will be some highly unusual additions. When you think about a Relationship Economy business, think hybrid.

The Relationship Economy Business Model

Recent news from eBay indicates they are attempting to appease sellers by lowering the upfront listing fee and increasing the back-end fee for sellers. Their "success-based" model is meant to increase listings, but according to Betsy Schiffman (2008), it will do little more than enrage its merchant base. Schiffman suggests that it isn't just the fee structure that has sellers complaining: eBay also changed its feedback system so that sellers cannot give a negative or neutral rating to buyers.

Ironically, eBay's business model has been one of the most successful in the online business movement. (Somewhat) average business people can minimize risk and overhead while avoiding the time and geographical constraints that can plague traditional businesses. They often benefit from social interactions (both in their online endeavors and in the frequent face-to-face seller conferences that eBay offers). The eBay-powered businesses often enjoy a large number of bidders, and benefit from networked markets.

Networked markets benefit from the effect that causes a business' products and services to have potential value beyond that of traditional markets. This phenomenon, often referred to as
network effect, grows exponentially based on the number of additional customers who have and use the products or services. The term was coined by Robert Metcalfe, the founder of Ethernet, the most widely installed computer local area network (LAN) protocol. But eBay, and other businesses intent on surviving The Relationship Economy, must master yet another model.

The customer loyalty model is useful for those companies that, like eBay, deal with a multitude of customers and collaborators who engage in conversation around and about the products or services they are purchasing and using. Businesses who use the customer loyalty model find that cost of customer acquisition only occurs at the beginning of a relationship, while the cost of maintaining (and retaining) that customer declines. These customers are generally loyal, satisfied, less price sensitive, and are less inclined to switch providers. This loyalty manifests itself in customer advocacy, where customers openly share their convictions about the company with others. These customers refer their friends and acquaintances to the company and vice versa, often promoting a company better than the marketing department could ever dream about.

How do businesses build relationships?

Relationship building for businesses seems almost counter intuitive. Back in the day, Customer Relationship Management was the practice of leaving the house, stopping for a cup of coffee at the local diner on the way to work, taking a break to visit with your neighbors who happened to be long-time customers, and generally engaging others in conversations about anything and everything.

Over time, businesses realized that in order to make those who held the purse strings happy, they had to generate revenue beyond what they had generated before. This first led to cutting out all nonessential and unproductive activity. Go figure -- taking the time to talk to others was one of the first activities to go. Think about the last time you engaged in conversation with:

  • the store owner of a place you visit at least once a month

  • your barber or hair stylist

  • the person who delivers your newspaper (I know, you don't talk to digital people)

  • your bank teller or your financial adviser

  • your business associates
I'm talking about real conversations here - beyond 2-3 word phrases and in more depth than a peripheral dialog on the weather forecast. The habits of the business world have carried over into our lives, and causing us to be very antisocial.

So what kind of conversations are we having with those we engage in business? We let them set the rules and make the initial approach. They use traditional business relationship techniques, sending us information they "know" we want, about stuff they "know" we need. We throw printed matter in the recycling bin, wear out our computer mouse (and left-button finger) hitting the delete button, and still they persist. Every once in a while we will actually speak with a human representative of the company, but it's usually after we have become very annoyed because we did not get what we expected for our money (and then had the privilege of listening to old, stale elevator music for 20-30 minutes).

Jay Deragon recently addressed these issues in his question: Ever try and reach someone with influence at a Fortune 500 Company? He noted that those that have any authority to make changes to improve customer relations are insulated from the customer. Even worse, companies that are growing will find it beneficial to outsource customer care (to people who may have less experience with the company and its products or services than the newest customer) If they really want to build our trust, they'll install a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to manage the details of our lives.

That's not a relationship!

So if we get the point, and we have the technology available, how do we get started?

Larry Weber (2007) provides us with Seven Steps to Build Your Own Customer Community.
  1. Observe.
    – See what’s going on without you, who is talking and what they are saying
    – Map (locate) your customers

  2. Recruit.
    – Drive traffic to your business locations -- online and offline. Lose the strategy of "build and they’ll come."
    – Develop innovative (and sincere) ways to send out invitations
    – Find and devote time to building your community & make connections to other communities

  3. Evaluate platforms (conduits to others).
    – Reputation aggregator
    – Enlist someone in your organization to Blog – make the material regular, relevant and connected to not only your company's mission but also to the needs of your customers (in other words, allow comments).
    – Participate in E-communities (those developed for folks with a common interest) & Social networks (those used by members to make and develop connections)

  4. Engage.
    – Your content and conversations should be engaging, meaning you are engaged in the discussion (not like when talking to someone who interrupts your favorite television show). By seriously demonstrating your commitment to customers, you will develop committed customers.

  5. Measure.
    – Frequently check the level of community involvement you have, compared to the level you hoped to have.

  6. Promote.
    – Everywhere you (and your customers) go, you should be there. Learn how to talk about your business (face-to-face or online) in such a way that people don't get the feeling that's all you think about, but they should realize that you are passionate about it.

  7. Improve.
    – Improving your "strategy" requires (gulp) listening to users - both customers and prospects, and actually evaluating (not summarily dismissing) the suggestions they make.
    – As you come up with new innovations, test them. If they aren't accomplishing what you had hoped, re-evaluate, tweak, fine-tune, or replace them.
In many cases, the only way to get new business is to find the unhappy customers of a competitor. Hopefully you can avoid being on the losing end of this transaction!

What do you think?


Schiffman, B. (2008, January 30). Ebay Sellers Riled Up About New Fees, Rules. Wired Blog Network. Available at

Weber, L. (2007). Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The revolution called The Relationship Economy

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right all right, all right

(thanks to

Revolution history

The most memorable recent "Revolution" was on the flip-side of the "Hey Jude" single by the Beatles, which they released in August of 1968.

You know you want to hear it -- go ahead -- you can still read while you listen!

(alternate link here

The first American revolution was marked by the "shot heard round the world" at Lexington on April 19, 1775. That shot began the eight-and-a-half year war for American Independence. It ended on September 3, 1783 with the Treaty of Paris. There have been many significant events in world history since then, and there are many more to come.

Recent History

The most recent revolution, like those before it, is the natural result of a series of collaborations, decisions, events, and actions. Like many revolutions, the majority of people in the world will look back after it is well underway and claim that they never saw it coming. But we can see this one coming! The media has reported on a variety of indicators and the imminence of this revolutionary shift in the way business is done in the networked world.

This revolution has been talked about in one form or another for almost ten years.

This revolution was identified as "a symbiosis of services and new information and communications technologies" (Morgan, 1998, p. 2). It was digested for the better part of the first two months of 2003 in the Business Administration School at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). And it was discussed at some length in a Socratic exchange on a long airplane trip (Searls, 2007).

More recently, the news updates for this revolution have been briefed (almost daily) to those who are interested in getting involved on the front lines. And now, the revolution manual is available for your reading pleasure.

This revolution is The Relationship Economy, defined as the people and things we are connected with in our personal networks who or that distribute or consume our capital, which in turn influences our individual production outputs.

This post begins a series on the finer points of the Revolution. It will include a step-by-step analysis of the factors and indicators that will point the way as we engage in The Relationship Economy. You'll see many familiar concepts and will be able to find your way through the process and prepare for the changes to come.

The Revolution Begins

The Relationship Economy includes the use of Social Media for traditional networking and business processes. In the most recent developments, it was the younger generation who were the early adopters in this recent trend toward social engagement. They sought (and found) face-to-face and virtual relationships based on shared interests, thrived on using just-in-time communication methods (like short messages on phone or instant messaging interfaces in lieu of email), and enjoyed connecting to people they met through friends and acquaintances to create, collect, and share content and information.

As these young early adopters move to the workforce, they will bring their expectations with them, and will demand access to the building blocks used to construct their lives thus far. The companies that employ them can choose to adapt to these needs, or they can try the "old-school" way and require adaptation by their new hires. The former will create an atmosphere of trust and an environment of innovation and collaboration. The latter is likely to result in a quick trip to "the company formerly known as" land.

What do you think?


Morgan, B. W. (1998). Strategy and enterprise value in the relationship economy. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold

Peterson, Rob (2003, November 13). The Relationship Economy - UPEI Jan - March 2003. Rob's Thought (Blog). Available at

Searls, D. (2007, February 15) Building an Relationship Economy. Linux Journal. Available at

Friday, January 25, 2008

There can be too much of a good thing!

I realize that everyone has an idea that they consider "the best," but at some point don't you think it's better to just adapt your idea to something already in place? There's an old saying that there's no need to re-invent the wheel . . . it's round, it rolls, it serves the purpose for which it was designed.

I think we are reaching the point of reinventing reinventions, at least for social networking sites. Yes, I realize that many of the sites that are now wildly successful got that way by being responsive and innovative. I realize that Friendster probably had a "duh" moment when they noticed that MySpace was offering things they didn't allow. I realize that MySpace looked at Facebook and maybe thought twice about all the bells and whistles (user-chosen music and slow-loading pictures and backgrounds) that Facebook abhorred (though the Vampires and Werewolves aren't much better). But at what point do we realize that our friends, acquaintances, and barely-known connections would rather fall off a cliff than join "yet another" social networking site just because we tell them "it's designed specifically for what we've been looking for?"

In announcing a new sports-related social networking site, Business Week said:

Sports social networking would seem to be a natural since fans are tribal by nature. And if the sports world has taken a while to capitalize on the obvious, that's changing fast. In the past year pro leagues—including the NBA, NHL, Nascar, and PGA Tour—have opened up their sites, allowing fans to post comments on message boards and create interest groups. Now athletes and teams are taking social networking a step further, establishing communities outside league sites.

So why not just add a group to MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, Freindster, Yahoo! or Google?

Must we face yet another login-and-about-me post-fest? Come on! Does anyone that isn't into funding and media not realize that we have had it up to here (motioning with left hand to forehead) with another site that refuses to import our profile and can't seem to get the whole openID concept?

Everyone in business has ideas. See my previous post on how easy it is to get caught up in the innovation process and succeed at absolutely nothing. For those who missed it, the rules for social networking (as I understand it) are here.

There will come a time when the latest group to "get" social networking will no longer be news. There will be a time when people will actually figure out how to engage in business activity on the social networking sites they already are signed up for (though they may need a password reminder for). There will be a time when we get messages from a real user friendly site that advises us of the start of a new group based on the interests and preferences we listed with them.

I sure wish that time was now!

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Facebook. It's not just for students, anymore!

Have you ever been invited to a party where you couldn't find anyone you knew and had no clue what the conversations were about?

I first was acquainted with Facebook as a college professor, when I realized that about 85% of the students communicated with each other not by email, not by telephone, but by messages on Facebook. I signed up, set up my profile, and wondered . . . now what?

(see previous post for more particulars)

It truly felt like everyone was speaking a different language. I knew that I was in the right place, but I had no idea how to find the people I knew or how to talk to the ones I could see. I was able to get pieces of information here and there, but no one had all the answers . . . until now.
Jason Alba & Jesse Stay have written the users' manual for Facebook!

Regardless of why Facebook is the place for you, this book will provide the answers for how to operate. It's a must read for professionals in all industries. If you understand the power of networking, then you need to get on Facebook. if you don't, then you probably need to read another book called "The Emergence of The Relationship Economy" (more on that another time).

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Space Invasion -- in Reverse!

The problem with blazing new trails through uncharted territory is Space Invasion. I'm not talking about the online game, I'm referring to my space, the stuff I don't want certain people invading. I'm talking about the stuff that I should control -- not you!

The time as come. You've realized your dream. That property in the mountains that you bought years ago finally has a structure on it that you can spend most of your time calling home. You're able to enjoy the fruits of your labors and sleep in -- past 6 AM. If a neighbor (or, even better, your in-laws) wants to visit, they call first to make sure you are home.

And then you get your first piece of junk mail. No big deal, you think. Just something more for the recycling bin (or the fire-starter pile). You expected a few enterprising people would locate your home, but with no landline phone, cars registered to a P.O. Box, and this being such a remote location, you thought it would take a while.

More junk mail the next day. Even more the next. It's coming from businesses that you have never shopped at, some of them don't even have a presence within 100 miles of you. More for the pile, no big deal. At least they haven't figured out your email address and satellite phone number -- that's sacred ground.

And then the first telemarketer (sorry, the "we're conducting a survey" operator) -- on your satellite phone. That's it, you call the provider and once you get to a manager, you realize that the number for your recent purchase was previously owned by a playboy from South Florida who traveled . . . a lot. You cancel the satellite phone.

And then your first visitor knocks on the door. With a mix of disturb and excitement, you open the door. It's a guy with a vacuum cleaner. You tell him to go away. He asks if he can demo the Dirtfighter 8000 for you before he leaves. You explain to him that you have wood floors and a central vacuum system, and all your vehicles are trucks with plastic floor mats. He persists. Finally, you agree that it is possible for two handfuls of mud to end up on the curtains in the upstairs back guest room where your mother will stay when she comes for her twice yearly visits. You lock the door to the soundproof room behind him and go make some coffee.

Why has it come to this? You just can't seem to get far enough away from these people who have so much faith in their products and so little respect for your time. The vacuum guy seemed nice enough, but his style just caused you to flash back to the super-annoying times of previous decades when you got tired of fielding dozens of calls selling who-knows-what between 6 and 9 PM at least five days a week. Don't the marketers get it? We need our space!

Speaking of space. This same mistake can be seen in the early days of the social networking space. Whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Bebo, or any of the others, the marketing message smells the same in the virtual world as it does in real life. Emma Thelwell reports that Google and other search engines may lose advertising money to social networking sites as businesses shift their marketing focus to social networking. It's funny how the old ways find themselves being applied in the new space . . . Carrie Meathrell 's recent post even seemed a little excited about her discovery that she had been spammed -- on Facebook!

So how do we fix this? I'm thinking fighting fire with fire is the best way. Can you imagine the message that big business would get (or have the opportunity to "get") if thousands of their would-be customers sent them a message in a language they purport to understand? Is there a chance that their procedures would change if a group of folks started using their tactics to convey a very important, business dependent message? I'm thinking that's what it would take.

Jay Deragon notes that business models and structures have historically followed form with traditional media, with the few at the top controlled the conversational content and direction aimed at influencing the masses to behave according to the needs of their markets. He observes that the masses are the markets and the conversations can no longer be controlled, rather the conversations of the people will influence the business markets. So let's try it!

Lets show the business world what we are talking about when we say "let's have a conversation!" Let's communicate, in their language, the requirements that we have in order to form a relationship with them and consider buying their product(s). Here's my example.

Let's say tomorrow I get a direct (snail) mail piece from oh, I don't know, a new restaurant in town. With this approach, I would send them back a letter (I'd have to go buy a stamp -- wonder what they cost now :-) suggesting that they provide their website address so I can check them out. If I received an email -- even an opt-in email, say, from Borders, I would respond by suggesting they take a look at Amazon's strategy -- they make specific suggestions based on what I have purchased in the past, and they tell me how they made the decision to make those recommendations. I have a Borders card, why don't they use it? Or what if I saw a billboard for the political wannabe of your choice. On it, the name and tagline was visible in full color, as well as the people who paid for it, of course. How 'bout if I stuck a billboard up on the candidate's daily route and suggested a website that had a list of campaign promises, the rationale for those promises, and a block for checking completion and the difficulties faced in fulfilling those campaign promises. Yes, they could even put a "click here to donate" button on the site.

Doc Searls' recent post suggests
if PR wishes to remain relevant in an environment where networked markets get smarter faster than those that would spin them, the profession needs to define and satisfy a market for something other than spin. I think that means take the time to reshape the model based on what we, the people, take our time to tell you, big business, what we want.

What do you think?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Local Social Network Commerce -- taking us back to the old days?

In a previous post, I suggested that local businesses and government services could enrich our lives by taking part in the social networking phenomenon. I was already aware of an application (that's such an inappropriate word given the power it brings) called Business 3.0, that allows you to create a profile of your business, your products and services and sell them on your social network site.

Facebook Pages allow businesses to connect with theirr customers on Facebook similar to the way they connect with their friends. Through a Facebook Page, users can show their support by becoming a fan, writing on the business' Wall, and other actions that automatically generate News Feed stories.
It's designed for all types of businesses:

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Cafes
  • Health and Beauty
  • Pets
  • Local Stores
  • Parks
  • Attractions
  • Sports Teams
  • Games
  • Artists
  • Musicians
  • Politicians
  • Non-profits
  • And many more...
So start your business, build your business profile, install the B30 app, and get busy, right?

What can we imagine with this? I'm thinking a back-to-local movement for businesses who are tired of losing business to the Amazon's of the world. Roll back the local business strategy (before my time) where everyone knew everyone, and those who lived in the town shopped in the town. Could it be that we could see a resurgence in local shopping? Is it time for the Mom and Pop stores that were pushed out by Wal-Mart to push back?

I'm thinking a local presence in my Facebook neighborhood, where the gas station lists their current prices (one can hope!), and the local grocery displays advertised specials. The library can send you a text message when that video you wanted gets returned, and the barber shop posts their mood as "bored, come get your hair cut now).

The local nursery can post receipt of a bunch of new shrubs as a bulletin on their profile, the local newspaper (if they are still around) can have "top friends" based on who gave them the scoop on news, and the local bank can tell all their customers that a new branch manager was hired and they are having a meet-and-greet this afternoon.

Reservations at the best restaurant in town can be made with a text message, the pavilion at the local park can be reserved in seconds, and you can schedule a yard-waste pickup from your pda. Local politicians can share their vision for the community with minimal cost, and the local car dealer can post "just arrived" specials.

The sky's the limit . . . but it's only for those with vision.

What do you think?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Everything I need to know about Social Networking I can get from my Dog!

I just realized that my dog's approach to social networking isn't all that different from the approach my kids take (or I take, for that matter).

It's funny how sometimes certain people or things can trigger a thought in your mind about something you weren't even thinking about. My dog doesn't usually do this, so I'm not sure how I feel about it . . .

Here's what I know about my kids and their social networking strategy:
My kids (two teenage boys). approach social network development like this. They meet people wherever they go (school, church, work, downtown, online) and determine whether they like, really like, or really, really like them). In all cases, they add them as a friend to their profile. They exchange comments on each other's walls, send messages, and periodically talk with each other on the phone. They plan get-togethers, coordinate event attendance, and probably even discuss schoolwork in these area.

Sometimes they go online just to be sociable. They log on to their social network of choice, see who is online, check their messages, see who has made new posts, make some comments on new pictures, and send a couple of messages. Often, they will engage in full-blown communications.

Every once in a while, I'll notice that they made a general post encouraging others to "say something." They may do this a couple times, and if no response is received, they'll go about doing something else.

If no one is there to talk, the time they spend on the site is limited. The difference between having 5 or 6 people to communicate with in real time and posting a few asynchronous messages is huge. I wonder if the advertisers who target these groups pay more during the times when more teens are online and engaging in conversation. Shouldn't advertising at 2AM local time be cheaper than advertising during the social networking rush hour?

Here's what I know about my social networking strategy:
I use my social network (strewn across a variety of sites and venues) for personal and professional reasons. I have a diverse group of friends and acquaintances, and always look for new people to connect to (and established relationships to strengthen). In order to do this, I realize that not every one I meet will be a "quality" relationship.

I meet people wherever I go (school, church, work, downtown, online) and determine whether I have something in common with these people. In many cases, I will add them as a friend or contact on one of the sites I use. I will exchange comments, send messages, and periodically talk with them on the phone. We may plan get-togethers, coordinate event attendance, and even discuss business opportunities.

Sometimes I go online just to be sociable. I log on to one of my social networks, see who is online, check messages, see who has made new posts, make some comments on new pictures, and send a couple of messages. If no has posted any comments, added me as a contact, or posted or responded to public questions, the time I spend on the site is limited. There's only so much you can do with a stagnant website, after all, so it's pretty easy to hit it, make a few posts, and leave. Thankfully, I have other things to do, or I would have to read a book or something.

I don't think that my strategy is all that different from that of my kids . . .

Here's what I know about my dog and her social networking strategy:
My dog is spoiled. She gets a walk from her humans at least once a day. I participate in at least one of these excursions, and they usually last around fifteen minutes. We either walk around the block or venture into the park that is located not far from our house (adjoining our neighborhood). Each of these walks lasts about 15 minutes.

My dog has three purposes on her walks. First, she goes on walks to get exercise. It takes a lot out of a dog to lounge around the house all day and all night, and her body needs to experience some anaerobic exercise. Second, she needs to meet other dogs (and sometimes cats). She usually spends a few minutes sniffing the other dog (I won't be describing this process), and sometimes even speaks to them. If she is unable to actually meet them, she senses their presence based on odors they have left behind. Third, she leaves her own odors behind.

In between lounging around in the house and walking, my dog frequently gets us to let her outside. If she is going for the extended version, we'll let her out the back door on the first floor, sometimes hooking her collar up to the wire that extends across the width of our property. In any case, she usually engages in a modified version of her walking activity -- exercise, meeting other dogs, and leaving her odor in strategic locations. If she is upstairs, she will have us open the door to the upstairs deck so she can get a birds eye view of the area out back. That's where she was just moments ago when I had this revelation. She walked out on the deck, looked around, and let out a couple of barks. She usually receives 3-4 responses, and may even look to see if she can identify the location (she already knows all her friends by their voices, and she has matched voices to odors in many cases). Today, she walked out on the deck, barked, heard no response, and immediately signaled me to open the door again. I guess she realized that none of her friends were online. This observation was probably accompanied by a serious chill in her bones (it's relatively cold outside).

So for my dog, going outside is like going online. She is able to do it several times a day, and sometimes has the opportunity to engage in real-time chat. Sometimes, she just sniffs around the profile pages of other dogs. Other times, she leaves a wall post or comment (which may need to be cleaned up) for others to respond to. Inevitably, her time "online" is a more rich experience when other dogs are around.

All for now, my dog wants to check her social network again.

What do you think?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Translation Factors (be more like Lady Liberty)

The process used to grasp the power of social networks is similar to the process of learning a new language. I have learned three languages in my life, one of them Southern, and I found similarities in the process each time, even though I was at very different places in my life each time.

I learned French in elementary school. In each grade (1-6), I had French class with a wonderful teacher. I took French again in 9th or 10th, and realized I remembered very little from before.

I learned German in my late teens. I was in the military in Germany, and I learned how to order beer, french fries, and schnitzel. I learned German so I could engage in commerce. I later learned German so I could do my job better. I worked undercover narcotics and often dealt with drug dealers who spoke German. It saved my life on at least a couple of occasions, because I didn't always let on that I spoke German.

I learned Southern in my mid-20s. After Germany, I moved to Tennessee where a sizable percentage of the population spoke the language. I learned how to say all kinds of things, and engage in a variety of transactions.

So here's how the translation thing works. Say you and I are talking. My customary language is L1, and you are fluent in L2. I am learning L2, so I will engage you in a discussion using proper terms and speaking rather slowly. You humor me and tell me how well I speak your language, but inside you wish it didn't feel like it took a lot of time to get me to answer a question.

I get more proficient in your language, and begin increasing my vocabulary, and am a little quicker with my responses. We talk even more and more frequently. You sincerely note that I am improving, but there is still something missing. It's not that I don't understand every word you say, because I do. So what is it?

It is the process I am using to communicate with you in your language. When you say something to me, I receive it in L2, translate to it to my customary language (L1), process the communication in L1, translate it back to L2, and then (and only then) deliver my thoughts to you in L2. The extra time you are noticing is the processing time (not unlike the time it takes to switch between applications on a computer when you have one-too-many windows open).

So when does that change?

The process speeds up when I begin to think in the language in which I am speaking. Said another way, if you and I are conversing in L2, we should both be thinking in L2. Hard to do? Perhaps at first, but with some practice it comes. At some point, I'll even start dreaming in L2, and I'll find myself in conversation in L1 and translating to L2 before speaking in L1.


Here's how that "translates" to a message on social networking.

We know that the up-and-coming generation (and a few techies and musicians) brought social networking to it's first benchmark. But recently, many adults (often more mature) that were not previously engaged in this phenomenon have begun testing the waters. Those of us who try to explain the environment and the benefits and all the other fantastic aspects of this new world often feel like we are talking to people who (as they say in Tennessee) aren't from 'round here. As a result, we may get frustrated, or worse . . . speak slowly in a higher volume. That doesn't work with the spoken language, and it won't work with social networking.

If we want to help these immigrants (we were all one once), we need to take the time to walk with them for a while. We need to explain the customs and traditions of the social networking space, and perhaps even provide them with a list of dos and don'ts. We need to stop being impatient when we here them speaking with a traditional-world accent and stop trying to finish their sentences. We need to welcome them, and prepare them for the new and exciting experiences they will engage in.

So get to thinking about how you can be more like Lady Liberty . . . "Give me your set-in-their-ways, your that-stuff's-for-kids, and your I-don't-see-why-we-have-to-do-that's." Stand on the shore with an outstretched arm. You (and they) will be richly rewarded!

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

How to get kicked off Facebook (a personal reflection)

Note: This post falls under the category of things you should NOT do . . . I am not writing a how-to manual, I promise. I just wanted to share with some of you how careful you have to be when building your network in a proprietary society.

I was in the "Making Friends" mode. I had several already, but having read "The Virtual Handshake," I realized that my network needed to be more diverse, with people from all continents, ideologies, and a variety of other "differences" that would add a rich contribution as we enter the coming year.

In this more "proactive" mode, I joined several of the groups that interested me. As I saw profiles that looked like they belonged to people with whom I could network, I clicked to add them as a friend. I included what I saw to be an appropriate comment relating to the reason I was offering my virtual hand in friendship and sent the invitation. I never planned this out on a calendar, but figure I probably took about an hour of my time to grow my network about once every two weeks. Periodically, Facebook would get tired of me before I did and the next time I clicked on "add a friend," I received a message that I was nearing my "limit." I took that as a sign to get on with some other productive activity.

Then one day I was adding friends and all of a sudden my profile died. I did not get a warning, I was simply redirected to a page that said my account was disabled and suggested I check out the Facebook 'Help' page (

The official word was that:

"Facebook has limits in place to prevent behavior that other users may find annoying or abusive. These limits restrict the rate at which you can use certain features on the site, including the rate at which you send friend requests. Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with the specific rates that have been deemed abusive.
Your account was disabled because you exceeded Facebook's limits on multiple occasions, despite having been warned to slow down."

So I stopped being proactive in my friending. I've timidly added a few since then, but only after messaging that confirmed this was the appropriate "next step." I must admit, this has me gunshy -- reminiscent of the times when a "friend of mine" wanted to ask that girl to dance but didn't want to face rejection.

There's more on this topic by Thor Mueller in 13 Reasons your Facebook account will be disabled.

Doc Searls had a recent post that observed "today’s “social networks” look like yesterday’s online services (remember the AOL community that allowed Internet access only with an AOL wrapper?). He noted that these social networking sites are still a walled garden . . . somebody’s private space. Unfortunately, they aren't OUR space, we are just renters in a huge development that has a boatload of private security guards that aren't willing (or maybe not able) to share the rules with us.

If you are more inclined to want to get kicked off of LinkedIn, take a look at Scott Allen's post on 9 Ways to Get Linked Out on LinkedIn.

And Jason Alba's post on Inviting People To LinkedIn And Getting Your Hand Slapped is another good, and timely read.

For a (short) bit of related video humor, check out My "Physical Facebook" (no., that's not me).

What do you think?

Are Social Networks really that different when it comes to our professional needs?

This morning on ABC's Good Morning America, there was an article that suggested "Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace that were once exclusively for social purposes are now increasingly being used for recruitment — and that will blossom even more this year. Employers are using these sites to promote their job openings, their corporate cultures and even their benefits all in an effort to encourage you to apply."

First of all, I realize that Linked in wasn't used exclusively for social purposes. Let's move beyond the obvious . . .

Many corporations and recruiters use these sites, but are the sites accomplishing anything for those seeking jobs? In other words, corporations spend loads of money elsewhere promoting their brand to potential customers and employees, are these sites just another venue? Are they effective? And, what does the individual job-seeker get from all this?

I think it depends on the mindset. Ultimately, these sites could be treated like any other new community. But if the same recruiting strategy doesn't work in all places, how much time and money do you need to spend in the new community before you figure that out? Are there different rules when we use social networking sites?

I read recently (but cannot recall or find where) that actively accessing loose connections will be more likely to help you find a job than close connections. The premise was that close connections (you and your closest friends) all know the same people. Loose connections (someone you met at a party, know from church, or met on an airplane) know a whole bunch of people you have never met. At what point are we connecting just to make contacts, though? I've heard the advice that we should dig the well before we are thirsty, but at what point do we have access to enough well water?

Jay Deragon's recent post noted "The social web is creating a new measure of business based on the fundamentals of relationships." Are there new rules for developing these relationships? Do the folks that are doing business in the social network space know what the rules are?

Katherine Walsh, in a piece addressing the topic of social networking as a job search strategy, said:

Once you do make the connection, whether new or old, make sure you set a timeline for following up, Combs says. It’s especially important to do this time of year, when people are increasingly busy outside of work. “You don’t want to pester people, but set a date to talk again and be disciplined about it.”

So there are some networking rules and best practices that apply both within and outside the digital world. The challenge is finding out what they are (presently) and then staying on top of them as they change. For those who are new to the online networking world, it would be a great idea to check out Jibber Jobber's suggestions on how to avoid being a digital nuisance in 2008.

If none of this makes sense, check out this video:

If you want to discuss this on LinkedIn,
come on over!

What do you think?