Headlines for Wednesday:

  1. Progess report (243 words)
  2. Alumni networks and business networking sites (536 words)
  3. The magic of helping out (83 words)
  4. Now that's how to recruit! (165 words)
  5. Business is a contact sport (175 words)



1. Progess report: 11:10

I've been with the IBM Toronto Center for Advanced Studies since February, and it's time to make a progress report. What have I done in the past eight months to create value for them and work on my research?

My work seemed pretty random in the beginning. I spent a fair bit of time just getting the feel of IBM, learning about the different services on IBM's intranet and making sense of the blogosphere. I had to be told to concentrate several times! ;)

The funny thing is that this random casting-about is probably *just* what I needed to do. My blog helped me meet other people working in the space, and I learned about visualizations and resources that I wouldn't have come across on my own.

The prototype that I made for kicks might be an interesting tool. The researchers I talked to found it novel...

What's next?

I need to sit down and just build the darn tool. I think it'll take me two, three weeks for the search engine, maybe another week for the aggregator. I already have most of the code. November will be my intensive hacking month, so don't expect to hear much from me externally.

Then I need to test the tool with people so that I have data that I can write up during my vacation. Early December?

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2. Alumni networks and business networking sites: 17:35

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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3. The magic of helping out: 18:56

Magic Johnson believed that if he helped everyone around him get what they wanted out of the game, then winning would always follow. And so would his own rewards, in their own time and of their own accord.

- From the Winner Within, by Pat Riley, coach, Miami Heat, as quoted in Business is a Contact Sport, by Tom Richardson, Augusto Vidaurreta, and Tom Gorman.

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4. Now that's how to recruit!: 19:58

As part of its employee recruitment effort, Adjoined Technologies spent $20 apiece to have "care packages" delivered to 40 IT majors who were studying for their final exams at a nearby university. The packages included Starbucks coffee, Power Bars, snack foods, and such. Cost-benefit analysis told Adjoined that $800 spent on a memorable win for 40 hand-picked potential candidates is a bargain compared with scattershot advertisements in the Sunday paper for hundreds of dollars each or recruiter's fees of $2,000 to $3,000 per hire. Moreover, providing that win got the relationship between the company and the candidate off to a beautiful start. Adjoined did not offer a position to everyone in that group of 40, but every candidate who was extended an offer accepted it.

- From "Business is a Contact Sport", by Tom Richardson, Augusto Vidaurreta, and Tom Gorman

Now *that's* how to recruit!

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5. Business is a contact sport: 21:26

"Business is a Contact Sport" by Tom Richardson, Augusto Vidaurreta, and Tom Gorman (ISBN 0-02-864163-9) makes the case for a dedicated Chief Relationship Officer or a team for dealing with all the important relationships a company has. It contains twelve principles:

  1. See relationships as valuable assets.
  2. Develop a game plan.
  3. Create ownership for relationships
  4. Transform contacts into connections.
  5. Move into the win-win zone.
  6. Get to know your stakeholders as people.
  7. Build bonds of trust with all stakeholders.
  8. Banish relationship killers.
  9. When something breaks, fix it fast.
  10. Get rolling and maintain momentum.
  11. Maximize the long-term value of relationships.
  12. Keep the wins coming, stakeholder by stakeholder.

The appendix is pure gold. It's a list of typical wins for the different stakeholders in company relationships. Keep it in mind when you're dealing with people, and look for ways to help them win!

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(MUST find a better way to blog about books...)

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