The Social Mesh (part 1) – Refining my LinkedIN Connections

“You cannot build a LinkedIN network in a week.”

[Here’s an interesting social phenomenon I am recently aware of in my process. In trying to define the Social Mesh I am observing my own networking habits and patterns.]

As I grow into new services, check out many, abandon many and stick with a few I intend to document what I find. I am asking the same information of my colleagues. In fact, that is what the Global Social Media Conversations room on Friendfeed is supposed to be about: define, refine and collaborate over the social mesh.

As I bounce all over the place trying to find spirit and inspiration on the web, I am patient and persistent at working my linkedIN network. And that is one of the nice facts of social media and the idea of reputation management or building. You cannot build a LinkedIN network in a week. You cannot post 9 months of blog articles in a month, trying to beef up your perceived “participation” in your network. You can only build your social network by using it, by actually networking.

And here is the new observation of my participation in social media.

Several months ago I was sent a LinkedIN invite from someone i worked with 12+ years ago.  The invite was the generic auto-filled email, “connect me to your linkedIN… blah blah blah.”

This was a guy I almost had to fire!

[And I am tired of the generic LinkedIN invites… if you don’t have any time to type in a personal PING then I don’t really have time to hit the “sure” button. Why would I?]

Well, of course I did not accept my “friend’s” invitation. And I would not really count him as a friend. I also did not reply and tell him why I didn’t think our alliance was valid. If asked for a job reference on this person I would not be able to give a thumbs up. Not even halfway up.

I was trying describe the social media work I am doing to a different, and real, friend, and one of the social sites I had in common with them was LinkedIN. My friend totally understood LinkedIN. The other stuff, didn’t compute in their minds.

“I use LinkedIN as my professional resume and contact database,” I said. The friend nodded agreement. “And all those other sites, I’m not sure what purpose they will play in business, but I enjoy noodling around on them to understand what they are about.” More nodding.

“Okay,” my friend said, “but why would I want to let everyone look at my rolodex? I am really struggling with the idea of sharing all of my contacts. And probably some of my contacts would not want their contact information shared so broadly.”

“Sure,” I agreed, “Mr. Trump doesn’t want to have his personal cellphone number passed around the social mesh. I can understand your concern. But, it is something you are going to have to get over if you want to participate in the social experiment.”

“So I need to turn on my sharing?”


“And what about Mr. Trump?”

I grinned at my friend’s witty repartee. “If Mr. Trump has a LinkedIN profile, it is up to him what information he wants to put on the net.”

[Sorry, I think I got in story telling mode for a second… what I was meandering towards was this.]

My current LinkedIN updating consists of deleting contacts that I would not enthusiastically endorse. If I can’t write a kudos for that person, I don’t really need them in my rolodex. I am sometimes amazed by the LinkedIN superstars, with 500+ contacts. And that guy is someone I want to make sure I keep in my network. But at some point LinkedIN is like the generic invite email, “Hi my name is… blah blah blah.” And sometimes the reflexive invites of former colleagues feels a lot like “friend” gathering on Facebook or Myspace.

So for me LinkedIN will continue to serve as an important widget on my social dashboard. And it serves as a good virtual ice breaker for folks that we’d like to meet.

BUT, the goal is not quantity, but quality!  If I’ve got Guy Kawasaki in my LinkedIN contacts it is up to him to monitor how he wants to be contacted and how he wants to share his information. And if Guy Kawasaki writes and endoresment for me on LinkedIN that’s another level of connection and validation of how near to the illuminati I am. And lastly, if I have Guy Kawasaki in my LinkedIN network, and he is not sharing his contacts, my first reaction is, “Hey Guy, WTH?” [That’s Heck for those of you watching your p’s and q’s or mine.]

Okay okay, here’s the riddle.

If I’ve got Guy Kawasaki and Steve Jobs as part of my linked in network, and I invite the retired Mr. Gates to connect with me, what happens?

[pause a beat, please fill in your own punchline.]

The answer is I don’t know. NOW, here’s another scenario. I’ve got Guy Kawasaki and Steve Jobs (the real one) on my Facebook circle of friends and I invite the retired Mr. Gates, what happens?

[Another pause, for you to formulate your own answers.]

And here is what I think (IMHO), nothing. Absolutely nothing happens.

BTW: I am still trying to get that endorsement from Steve Jobs, but he’s busy with the iPhone and mobile-mini-me and stuff. And I am trying to get Guy Kawasaki to join my LinkedIN network, but I can’t figure out how I would write an endorsement of him. As for the retired Mr. Gates. I’d love to hear from him, but if he uses that generic LinkedIN email invite. I’m gonna deny. And with Mr. Gates I would probably tell him why.


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