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Andrew S. Baker (ASB)

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Making the Most of Social and Professional Networking

social networks, social media, professional networkingAs social/professional networking continues to proliferate, users and organizations alike, seek to find the ways to make the most of the growing trend.  A recent infographic shows just how complicated it can be for marketing departments to try and cover social media. Similarly, many people are wondering just how much time they need to spend on social networks in order to see any value from the effort.

Here are the top questions which challenge individuals:

  • Do I need to be on any networks at all?
  • How do I determine which networks to be a part of?
  • How do I benefit from the networks that I have already joined?
  • How can I keep track of my friends and colleagues across all these networks?
  • How much time should I invest in social media on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?

Here are the top questions which challenge organizations:

  • How do we track the effectiveness of our social media campaigns?
  • How do we determine which networks to track against?
  • How much money should we pour into social media marketing?
  • How much social media activity do we allow our employees to engage in at work?

 
Managing Your Connections

Managing social and professional networks is best performed by tools like XeeMe, which not only presents a prioritized view of one’s networks to others, but also allows one to engage with ones connections from a personal-centric perspective rather than network-centric perspective.

 
Social Media Metrics

In an effort to better gauge social media influence and effectiveness, several tools have arisen -- such as Klout and PeerIndex -- which purport to help track various metrics, but I don’t think they are there as yet.  They can give you some impression of how busy someone is on social networks, and how much basic interaction they receive on their posts, but beyond that, the algorithms don’t do as good a job of indicating influence as their proponents might suggest.  From my perspective, “Influence” is much more complicated than “interaction” and often more silent.

XeeMe itself, besides directly supporting hundreds of networks, provides valuable tools for tracking effectiveness of engagement at a personal or business level.

 
Reputation-based Networking

On this note, I see the introduction of Connect.Me as a different type of network aggregation or overlay which can address a significant portion of the influence question – at least for individual users.

Connect.Me is a reputation-based network which simply allows users to vouch for various attributes of other network member.  These connections are derived from your existing networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) that you choose to connect to the service.  Rather than being just about what you have said about yourself, a reputation-based network allows your connections to assert things about who you are and what skills you have that are important to them.

Every user has control over what skills are listed, and how the information is presented, but this is a powerful way of displaying just how you influence others.  It is well worth getting an invitation to join, and the overhead of managing this network is minimal, as it obtains the bulk of its information from your other networks.

Just as the endorsement feature of LinkedIn has been a valuable asset in validating connections on that network, so too will Connect.Me have a profound impact on the validity of social media on a broad scale.  It will be interesting to see how dominant this perspective becomes as more networks are brought into the mix.

I would encourage everyone to take some time to look at these tools, and to put together a comprehensive strategy for their social media activities, so that they can reap the most benefit from their social media interaction, whether their goals are business development, job hunting, expansion of personal interaction or corporate branding.

 
Getting Value from Social Media

At a basic level, the questions and challenges of social media raised by both individuals and organization can be answered in a similar fashion:

  • Set some goals for your social media interaction as a person or organization
  • Set a few simple metrics to allow you to rate effectiveness
  • Evaluate these metrics periodically and make necessary adjustments
  • Focus your efforts on how to benefit others, and you will be benefitted
  • Don’t expect instant results (patience is key)
  • Don’t spend your entire day in social media exercises (balance is key)

Social media is something that is planted today, nurtured carefully, and yields a harvest in the long-term.  Don’t try to throw it out there moments before you need it.  If you haven’t started cultivating a social media presence as an individual or organization, then you need to start as soon as possible if you want to derive any benefit from the exercise.

And I would highly recommend that you make use of tools like XeeMe and Connect.Me to make a real impact – especially as an individual.  Social media can provide real benefits or act a a huge time sink – it all depends on how you manage it and whether or not you employ a strategy.

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About Logik!

Andrew S. Baker aka ASB aka Logik!

Andrew S. Baker is a business-savvy, hands-on IT leader with expertise in mentoring people, mitigating risk, and integrating technology to drive innovation and maximize business results. He creates competitive advantage for organizations through effective IT leadership: implementation of processes and controls, and architecture of robust business solutions.

Mr. Baker has successfully led a number of high-performance technology teams in designing, deploying and maintaining secure, cost-effective computing environments for well-known companies, including Warner Music Group, The Princeton Review, Bear Stearns, About.com, and Lewco Securities.

For over a decade, Andrew has exhibited thought leadership on technology and business topics via mailing lists, technical forums, blogs, and professional networking groups, along with contributions to podcasts, webinars, and over 20 technical/business magazine articles. He also serves on several boards and committees for non-profit organizations, and within the Seventh-day Adventist church.

His personal interests include Astronomy, Basketball, Bible Study, Chess, Comics, Computers, Family Life Ministries, Reading, Strategy/Role Playing games, and Professional Networking...

A summary of Andrew's current résumé is available here, and he can be reached on a variety of social and professional networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.