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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Social Grid Follow-up

Last week I did a webinar with Mark Sylvester of Intronetworks - Tapping the Social Grid. There's a recording available here.

The crux of the talk was:
  • Why being able to tap into the social grid is important for concept workers.
  • A few of the tools and methods I use to tap into the social grid.
Unfortunately, chat was not enabled during the session, but they did have the ability for attendees to ask questions. Somehow, like other attendees, I couldn't see the questions. It made things feel a little disconnect. I also couldn't see poll results, but Mark did a great job of letting us know what was happening in polls and asking questions during the session. He also sent me all the questions so I could think about them.

In terms of the presentation, most of the presentation, I've discussed before in various places:
There's a lot there, so if you were going to choose two, probably Crowdsourcing in the Small and Tools and Methods for Networks and Communities would be the two.

Other Ways to Tap into the Social Grid

In the session, I discussed the use of LinkedIn, Twitter and Blogging as my primary tools for tapping into the social grid. I asked via Twitter and in the session for other tools/methods that people use for Tapping into Your Social Grid.

Here was the original tweet:
  • tonykarrer: Please help - online session going now: How (other than twitter) do you Tap Your Social Grid to get help with your problems? #tysg
From participants.
  • Facebook
  • Ning
  • Blogs
  • Social Bookmarking (delicious and Diigo)
  • Plaxo
  • Facebook pages for organizations/businesses
  • LinkedIn pages for organizations/businesses
  • WordPress blog as part of business website
  • Photosharing sites - smugmug and flickr
  • youtube
  • email
  • MySpace
  • Bebo
  • Public speaking
  • Yammer
  • company tools of tagging, sharing bookmarks, web profiles
  • Meetup
  • IRC
  • Comments in blogs
  • Forums
  • Virtual Book Club
  • Slideshare
  • slideshare - leads me to someone's blog or website
  • archived webinars - lead me to someone's blog or website
  • Movie recommendations on NetFlix
When you think about it, there are a ton of other recommendation or social grid type things out there that we tap into without thinking about them as tapping the social grid.

For more discussions on networking and LinkedIn see Networking Events in Los Angeles and Southern California, Secret for Networking at Events – Prenetworking, Pre-network with LinkedIn, Local Event Organizers Need to Adopt Social Media.

And for information that's more focused on service professionals such as accountants, attorneys, consultants, take a look at Social Media for Service Professionals and Social Media to Build Reputation and Reach Prospects – More Ideas.

See also:
Questions and Thoughts

The following are questions or comments from the audience.

Q: If you have unique content for a specific area of business, like brand marketers, is a group on LinkedIn better than creation of your own business to business network?

To me, LinkedIn is very limited in it's ability to set up communities. Yes, you can create a group. And then you have threaded discussions. However, when we just did this for the LA CTO Forum, we created a LinkedIn group so that members could search profiles and created a private Ning community for discussions, events, and communication.

The question mentions "unique content" ... I often find that Ning isn't that great for specialized content. I'd need to know more to understand what would work for the particular situation.

Q: Do you remember who/what organization researched memory and found that those under the age of 27 remember less than older folks? I really like this idea and would like to read this research.

Couple of places that discuss adaptation of memory and technology
In Your Outboard Brain Knows All, Clive Thompson talks about how our need to remember is changing.
Neuroscientist Ian Robertson polled 3,000 people and found that the younger ones were less able than their elders to recall standard personal info. When Robertson asked his subjects to tell them a relative's birth date, 87 percent of respondents over age 50 could recite it, while less than 40 percent of those under 30 could do so. And when he asked them their own phone number, fully one-third of the youngsters drew a blank. They had to whip out their handsets to look it up.

Q: Is what we consider ""Collaboration & Networking"" in the enterprise is what academia calls ""Plagiarism""?

Two articles (1, 2) that discuss the case of a Facebook study group that was considered cheating when other study groups are okay.

This is a really challenging issue!

Q: what's a "hash tag"?
Q: what's "#tysg" he typed in twitter search box

#tysg - It wasn't really a hash tag, but close enough. It was a tag that I put in my original twitter post that allows me to find related posts.

Q: Curious--when he does a follow-up conversation w/ people on linkedin that respond to his inquiries, as in the ex. he showed, do people expect to be paid for their consulting time? or does it depend on the extent of the consultation?

I've never had someone who accepted a request for a 30 minute conversations ask to be paid for that conversation. I have talked to a few consultants who clearly were not going to tell me anything of interest without being paid. But that is rare - 5% or less. Obviously, after a first call people (including me) might suggest an engagement is in order to dive into more detail.

: Do you feel LinkedIn Answers is as valuable for introducing a completely new technology vs. something that people are familiar with?

I'm not as familiar with using LinkedIn as a marketing / sales tool, but I use it all the time as a market research tool. It certainly is good at reaching influencers. But I have to be honest and say that I get lots of LinkedIn requests to look at someone's new product in order to try to get me to blog about the product. I generally am not a super early adopter so I'm less likely to dive in with a new tool. Plus there's just a lot of those requests. My guess is that there are others who would be more likely to dive in if it's something interesting. Probably the best approach is to be even earlier and truly be asking for expertise - where do we fit in the market.

Q: How to you handle negative comments on Linked in or other SN sites?

I've not dealt with negative comments on LinkedIn. Do you mean in Q&A and discussions? I've found it to be pretty civil as compared to threaded discussions in other places. Maybe because people want to look good.

For a better answer, I would go to:

Communities and Networks Connection - Negative Comments

Q: Will the questions be open to everyone in LinkedIn or is it only open to those in your category or having connections?

I believe you can limit it, but normally you would use a message instead if you wanted to limit the distribution. In my mind, the question is a public mechanism. Messages are the private mechanism. Or maybe that's just how I use it.

: I often hear people say they are concerned about potential vandalism in user-created content. I suggest that they have a recruiting problem.

I agree. Or you could think of this as an opportunity for natural selection. A bit like the cartoon that I really enjoyed from Dilbert (sorry I'm repeating it, but it's too good to pass up).

Q: Do you ever feel too "spread out" between LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging, twittering, etc.?

Fantastic question. And yes. I'm constantly evaluating where I'm going to focus. I'm still somewhat unsure about Twitter and Facebook. They are definitely secondary mechanisms as compared to LinkedIn for me. Blogging is a different animal.

I think everyone has to evaluate what works for them. But you need to find the tools and methods that work for you.

Q: How is Twittering more effective than Facebook status updates

They are very similar. In fact, many of my updates I post to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn via That said, because Facebook I generally am doing more social things, I'm not going to mention every blog post. People following me on Twitter are choosing to listen in and are not expecting a mutual friend. So, the dynamic is a little bit different.

Wow, not the best answer - can someone explain this better?

Q: I hear a clear delineation between the social and professional uses of these sites, but with them all so available and searchable... can they really stay that separate?

I'm sorry if I suggested that there was any such delineation, especially on something like Facebook. I have a tendency to mix business and fun. Most people find this in their social networks (both in-person and online). LinkedIn has a tendency to be more directed and professional - but there's still a "social" side to it.

Q: So are people helping you with customer situations for free? Is this stuff they'd normally get paid to do? Are they doing it because you'll mention them on your blog?

Free yes. Most of us consultants do initial discussions for free. Some consultants are very concerned about giving anything away. For me, if I can help you in 30 minutes, it's not worth trying to sell you a consulting engagement. And I believe that's most people out there. I should also mention that I'm often not talking to consultants.

The "mention me in your blog" is normally only with people who seek a conversation with me ... not when I'm seeking a conversation. In fact, they might have the opposite concern - is he going to blog about what I'm saying?

I will say that being approached by people who are looking to get their name in my blog is a bit problematic.

Q: Why does tony prefer linkedin to twitter?

Twitter is an open conversation. It's great for quick hit questions with nearly real-time response. It's a good way to stay connected with people. It's much more social than LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is much more directed. For me, it's there to create the right conversations. I might broadcast a need on Twitter for a certain kind of conversation. But, I'm much more likely to go see who I know or who I can reach who will have expertise. A lot of the folks who follow me on twitter are people I'm linked to.

Hold it, is that true? I'm going to send a twitter message right now see if I can find out.

The response so far has that about 2/3 of the people following me on Twitter are connections on LinkedIn. So, there's quite a few people who I might be able to reach with a tweet that I would not reach via searching on LinkedIn. There's also a larger number who I reach through my blog. As well, discussions on groups and other places can reach out beyond your connections.

Q: Are there tools for doing online brainstorming with people in different locations.

I mentioned the great session with Robin Good using MindMeister. More on this ...
Q: Define ""Open Networker""

See: My LinkedIn Connection Approach

Q: Is LinkedIn mainly for professional purposes only? That is what I have seen in my limited look at it a while back.

Yes it's definitely professionally oriented. Facebook is far more social.

Q: We use a Virtual Book Club to share ideas and solve problems. What are your thoughts?

Love the idea.

Q: How about calling it micro crowdsourcing?

I like the term. Not 100% sold.

Q: Do you feel Linkedin is best suited for a certain age group?

I'm going to guess that it skews older. Certainly older than Facebook. The cultural norms on LinkedIn are similar to networking norms in real life so I think it will feel better to an older audience.

These are guesses, does anyone have data to back this up?

Q: As a business owner, I have concern about employee abuse, i.e. loss of productivity. Social networking proponents say productivity can actually increase. I have doubts. What's your opinion?

We discussed this in the session. Employees definitely need to be coached to not abuse their time at work on things like Facebook. LinkedIn I would have far less concern. Although be aware that everyone on LinkedIn is somewhat seen as a passive job seeker. Actually, everyone is a passive job seeker even if they aren't on LinkedIn.

Q: Tony, your comment on blogging that ""writing forces learning"" is another way of demonstrating the old aphorism that ""teaching something is the best way to learn it.""

Well said!

Q: What are the attributes of very successful communities...(long answer expected!)

Wow, this is way too big for me. You might start with:
Q: Is NING used more for professional or for private/social?


Q: how valuable do you find the groups in LinkedIn?

It's funny, because I find value in the groups in a different way than I expected. I definitely get value from a broader searching capability. I expected that. But, I didn't expect to meet a lot of interesting people through discussions. I never took the opportunity in forums in the past to meet members. Because I'm so used to 30 minute conversations as a result on LinkedIn, I naturally do that with folks who are saying interesting things in LinkedIn groups.

I would say that groups are way lower value than being able to search for expertise.

Q: What does it mean that Tony's blog is his outboard brain?

Basically, I forget details of stuff all the time. And so I look back at my blog to find out what I used to think about a topic.

Q: How much time do you spend in LinkedIn weekly?

I've not really thought about it. When I get an email from someone or run into them on a web site, I look at their profile - maybe 30 minutes a week doing that. And then my use is heavily dependent on what I'm working on. I would guess it averages an hour a week. However, I would guess that I have about 4, 30 minute conversations a week as a result of LinkedIn. Of course, all of this is really work, and extremely high value work.

Q: How would you rate Twitter for tapping the social grid?

I'm still not 100% sold, but it's growing on me. If you are relatively new to all of this, start by creating 30-minute conversations on LinkedIn.

Q: Do you see corporations using LinkedIn Groups for employees to seek mentors/coaches within their organization?

I don't have enough data points on this. Can someone else weigh in?

Q: Any comments on Nour's book: Relationship currency?

I'm afraid I'm only vaguely familiar with it. Thanks for the pointer. Oh, and he's a 2nd level connection and a fairly open networker on LinkedIn.

Q: will it be possible to save the ""templates""

The template that is being asked about is what my message generally looks like when I reach out to someone via LinkedIn.

It's almost always an expertise request.

Hi ,

I'm hoping you'll be open to a brief conversation. From your profile you have a great background and it seems like you'll have lots of thoughts around my issues.

I'm working on XXX.

I've spent a fair bit of time researching and have been finding YYY.

I'd like to set a time to discuss this with you and get your thoughts.


It's critical that your question show you aren't still at square one. If you come and ask me - I need help selecting an authoring tool... I may or may not be interested in talking to you. If you tell me that you are debating this tool vs. that tool and are particularly thinking about reusability - now I am likely much more interested.

Q: Does LinkedIn offer any sort of rating system to vet the value of an individual's advice?

During the session, I botched my answer to this question - so luckily two people came to my rescue....

Q: LinkedIn Answers does offer the opportunity to rate based answers which is indirectly a rating system.
Q: But you could RECOMMEND someone on LinkedIn for those who's advice has been great

I would add that in "real life" you don't get much help in vetting someone's advice either.

Q: ""Bedstefar"" is Grand Dad in english
Q: Christian IX, king of Denmark

Okay now I wish everyone could have seen these in the chat! That's pretty dang good whoever typed this in. I'm just not going to tell anyone how this relates to anything. ;)

Q: How do you work with a management/political culture that states “my ideas, right or wrong”?

I'm not 100% sure what this related to in the presentation. Most of the time, I'm looking for input, answers, outside the box thinking that I can't get internally. If your culture doesn't want to hear what other people think - hmmm - What was I saying about passive job seeking? Actually, I believe LinkedIn is pretty good for active job seeking as well.

Q: People are not only asking questions, but looking for like minded people who connect with for future reference in searching Q&A

Great point.

Q: So search engines (social networks) tend to lessen the need for individual memory?

Yes - that's exactly true. See Better Memory.

Q: I'm new to introNetworks via LinkedIn discussion grp invite. So, how does introNetworks compare?

Mark was just getting into this. LinkedIn is much more keyword, profile search across a very large network. introNetworks is generally a smaller group (although they can be pretty large) and uses a more limited set of keywords to do matching of people. Having been the CTO for eHarmony at its start - I think of introNetworks as the eHarmony for business-social networking with given groups of people.

My challenge with introNetworks and other social networking tools is that unless I have a specific problem I'm trying to accomplish or a plan for how to connect, then I just end up swimming around. See:
Social Conference Tools - Expect Poor Results. Still, I'm a big believer in Prenetworking before you go to an event - find people you should connect with at the event. And, I'm still learning about all of this.


Mark Sylvester said...

Tony, this is an excellent recap of the webinar and a model for how I would love to see other speakers deal with questions and content raised during the live event. Your pointers, links and clarifications are a tremendous value add to the original piece. I am going to post a link to it from the webinar page so more people will get the follow on information.

V Yonkers said...

Are you still not sold on the term "social grid" after the webinar? As I read through the questions, there was a lot of information and spring board for a lot more conversation.

Interestingly enough, this week I had my son look up a number in the telephone book for a local store. I remember hearing the same complaint from the receptionist at the eye doctor's that her 17 year old son did not know how to do it. Both my son and hers were more comfortable going on the internet to find their information, my son's first inclination being to go on facebook and ask his friends.

However, they would not have been able to answer his question, which was if the store had an item in stock. My son did not know how to read a telephone book!

James said...

Wah.. this is great topic i think to know about social media. Very very important questions with answers are perfect. Thanks for sharing.