Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Integrity of Social Networks

There are two kinds of online Social Networkers these days, those that are Open Networkers, and those that are not. I must say that I fit in the camp of the latter. Back at the ERE Expo in San Diego, I had an interesting conversation with Microsoft sourcing guru, Glenn Gutmatcher. Glenn is an Open Networker on LinkedIn because as a sourcer, he wants access to as many people as possible. I had a very similar conversation with Scott Kahle last year. I am not a sourcer myself, so I don't have that same motivation. In fact, I'm not personally searching for any candidates myself these days in my pure Strategy role.

I've built my LinkedIn network up to 340+ 1st Degree connections through connecting with current/former coworkers, people I have met in person, via e-mail, or other medium, and others through relevant forums like MLPF and ERE where it is clear that the relation might be mutually beneficial. I have continued to build up my network for both my personal professional needs, as well as to benefit my fellow recruiters. IMO, the whole concept of LinkedIn is built on 'trusted' relationships. IMHO, the 'trusted relationship' concept gets diluted with the Open Networking philosophy.

A couple weeks back at the Virtual Edge Power Summit, Dave Copps from PureDiscovery talked about how networks are starting to become more niche in nature, that the quality and relevancy of the connection is becoming more important than the quality. That's what I like about and it's subgroups (I even just formed a private group on NING thanks to Slouch's inspiration). That's what I like about the ERE Expo as compared to the SHRM National Conference as well. I feel I can really connect with people in these forums, people who I know and trust. I think that Dave Copps is right, quality of networks are going to take more precedence of quality of networks. The trick will be how to tap into those niche networks. It won't be as easy as it is on LinkedIn or in other large forums.

I guess it all boils down to preference and motivation though. I don't fault Open Networkers, but it's not for me personally. I'm excited to see what can happen in these smaller niche networks though. I believe that because the connections will be stronger, that the trust will be stronger, and therefore the collaboration and knowledge sharing will be richer.

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At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Recruiting Animal said...

Every recruiter should be an open networker. Why not?

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Ben said...

It's just personal opinion really, being an open networker doesn't really serve my purposes currently

I believe all sourcers should be open networkers and Glenn G. & Scott K. convinced me of that. For full life cycle corporate recruiters, if it serves their needs, then yes, they should be too.

I think that one thing that bothers me the most is the 'Friend' concept in networks like Ning, Facebook, MySpace, etc. If someone wants to be my friend in these forums, there better be a previous connection or a mutually beneficial reason to connect should be apparent. Otherwise, they are not really my 'friend', and their gesture purely serves their interests, not mine.

From my immediate network, I hope to make new mutually beneficial connections, make/get recommendations & references, expand my center of influence, etc. I feel that my ability to do this is effectively is based on the TRUST embedded in my immediate network. With open networking, TRUST is a non-factor, and I don't see much value in that, IMHO.


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