Alumni networks and business networking sites

| connecting
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

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

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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