It's All About Who You Know

from the is-it-really? dept

In business, networking with other people is often the most important part of your job. That said, consider me incredibly skeptical of the new breed of "social software" marketplaces that are popping up all over the place. Rafe Needleman at Business 2.0 is raves about the concept in a column about LinkedIn, which is competing with a similar company called SpokeSoftware. There's also a lot of hype following the slightly more informal and less business-focused versions, found in places like Friendster and Ryze. It certainly seems like there's a trend to create these types of online "meet markets" for business or for pleasure. Why am I not impressed? First, I remember a similar company from a few years back called that had a ridiculous amount of hype before eventually folding. It turns out that many people have fun entering in the names of their friends at first - but very quickly lose interest. No one updates their lists, and no one does much beyond a little poking around. It's fun to see who your friends know, but most people aren't comfortable asking friends to be put in touch with their other friends. While it is a core part of networking, these systems often feel like spying on just who your friends' friends are. I also spent some time a few years back with a team of folks trying to build a very similar company (with a much stronger business model, in my opinion). I learned an awful lot about the way business people interact - especially when they're searching for the right person to make a deal with. The biggest thing is that the people you know in your network have tremendous value to you. Most people don't like to give up their rolodex. They know it's valuable, and they want to keep it in a position where they can leverage it - and not have to worry about random people (even if they know them) sniffing through it. They don't mind making introductions when they think it makes sense, but they get annoyed when someone approaches them and asks them to make an introduction. Also, there is much more value to me, if someone I know introduces me to someone because they thought it would be good if I knew that person. Any time I got an introduction through a system like LinkedIn, that connection would immediately have lower priority, because I would think that the person trying to contact me specifically tried to track me down - rather than the person linking us realizing that we should talk. Finally, the money factor. While people have no problem playing around with this stuff when it's free, I find it hard to believe most people would pay for such introductions. It's way too easy to route around such a system and just call your friend instead.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2003 @ 11:46am


    Yep, I tried Ryze again. While I was excited the first week, I signed a few guestbooks ... until no one responded at all to any of my posts or questions.

    So I've joined 3 networks, and have tried posting intelligent questions for debate, and some well-thought out answers. But there's only a handful of the 30-50 members of each who bother to respond.

    Interestingly - I signed a guestbook last week, asking a question about this person's business. They never responded. But then they answered one of my questions on a board. I wrote them directly about their post, and they wrote I asked about why they never responded to my original guestbook entry. The answer, "well, I meant to, but got busy..."

    I wonder if people here ignore you if you don't seem immediately relevant to them? Which seems to be the anti-thesis to true networking to me - you never know who's uncle is the CEO of a major corporation, etc., or who knows someone else that needs your service.

    There may also be some clique-ism happening, where the people on one coast who meet alot tend to band together...

    I guess I'll stay a bit longer and try a bit more. So far I'm not impressed, either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2003 @ 1:33am

    Re: Yeah...

    I'm on Ryze too. It is highly clique based it seems to me with certain groups meeting physically quite often. The most annoying things is random bozoz claiming you as a friend whne you have no idea who they are! It's almost entirely uselessto me, though if I were a software consultant ion the West Coast of the USA it might be useful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Valdis, Jun 16th, 2003 @ 10:56am

    Networking made easy

    Right on! My experience also.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Svetaini krimas (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 12:10am

    Linked-in rules

    In my view Linked-in is the better networking solution. It works for me anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    اليوتيوب, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 10:32am

    very good article its really depending on who you know

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    newest jordan shoes, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 11:01pm

    newest jordan shoes

    I love how you guys always change the mysterious voodoo into common sense tests. Thanks SEOMoz for letting CRE tell your story so we could learn how to think like human beings instead of bots.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    kamagra, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 5:27am


    Nice post. Please keep continue sharing your great ideas

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    LinkedIn Fan, Apr 6th, 2011 @ 10:55pm

    LinkedIn is smokin hot now!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Men Suit, Mar 1st, 2012 @ 12:22am

    Every buddy knows that whole system runs on referral and lobbying....the whole US runs on this fundamental :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    sprearson81 (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 6:14pm

    Linkedin password protection sucks :p

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Argan Oil, Jul 14th, 2013 @ 11:32pm

    Social networking for business

    I think now a days Social networking for business has become a significant part of every business owners' overall online advertising campaign.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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  13. identicon
    Fixeaz, Oct 30th, 2015 @ 2:50am

    Agree with you

    Yes, Building relationship is very important in business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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