Alumni networks and business networking sites

The Greater IBM Connection

My notes from last month's Greater IBM networking party are in my backpack, just in case I find the time to write a trip report. They get me thinking: how useful are alumni networks, anyway? How can we use social networking to support people even when they leave an organization?

Pauline Ores pointed out that alumni need to find:

  • Candidates for open job positions in their company
  • Jobs for themselves or other people in their network
  • Clients or vendors

There's also a fourth need that I think alumni will definitely appreciate: keeping in touch with people in the organizations they've left behind, even when those people have moved on to other organizations.

Hmm. Are any of these needs compelling enough for some people to actively participate in a space, or can they be handled by basic social networking without the additional structure of an IBM group?

What value can IBM bring? I'll split this up into several blog posts and reassemble them into an article when we're done thinking out loud. Here's one of them.

Looking for candidates for an open position

IBM hiring is a vote of confidence in the person. Experience at IBM may be an asset that employers could look for. Would people explicitly search for IBM alumni when looking for candidates to fill a position. Does IBM want to encourage and support that?

We're looking at two use cases:

  1. Finding a list of people who are interested in a different position
  2. Advertising an open job position

It's unlikely that business networking sites will ever support case as such information is sensitive. Would you indicate on your profile that you're looking for a different job? Probably not.

Case 2 can already be done with current business networking systems. LinkedIn allows people to post job advertisements to their personal network. People can see these job ads when they log in. A group affiliation allows you to be part of a larger network without having to make all the connections yourself, which is useful.

If organization networks and other affiliations were automatically considered part of your personal network, the volume of information from IBM and all your other affiliations could be overwhelming. Filtering will become essential as volume grows. A smart social networking site would make it easy to filter displayed jobs by area of interest.

Jobs advertised through second- orA third-degree personal networks make sense because of referrals. Does it make sense to use second- or third-degree affiliations in your network? I think that affiliations might only be useful for the immediately-connected.

How would it work? If I want to advertise a position, it would be useful to be able to either explicitly activate a network (such as my Toastmasters network if I'm looking for people with good public speaking skills) or advertise to all my networks. It wouldn't make much sense for these jobs to be advertised to people without those affiliations, though.

To support the search for candidates, business networking services should make it easy to advertise jobs to selected networks of people.


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