Zeroknowledge's Privacy Campaign

First and foremost thing to consider for any social networking site is its user’s privacy. In fact, one should go to insane levels of protecting the user’s privacy, because the user trusts his/her information with the site. You are not at liberty to use it for your profit. You make profits by enhancing his/her life, simply put, ‘making his/her day’.

The ZeroKnowledge ad above rightly puts the idea in perspective.

Friend in need is …

August 14, 2006

Friend indeed.. we always hear this right? How to find that friend at times when you badly need him/her? We do call them if we have phone number, or if we know the address, we visit them. Most often than not, both phone numbers and address change, and chances are that both might not have met for years to exchange this information.

Most unfortunate thing is that we will not know if that friend can help you, because we do not know his network. So small chit chat every now and then is what is required most of the times.

It so happened that the other day when I was looking for vendors to furnish my new office, computers and hiring people, I happen to talk to my friend casually and realized within minutes that he can find everything I am looking for, at affordable prices sometimes much cheaper!

Point to note is, he is not net savvy and his social network is most of the times offline than online. It is not just him, its the same case with many of my friends and they prefer it that way. How can today’s social networks help these offline networks? What are the ways one can find that friend at times of need?

Be it corporate events, local user groups, unconferencing events like barcamps, we often find people who share common interests. Most often we swap business cards, spend some time sharing some info about work, interests etc. After the event, we follow up with our new contact via mails, IM, phone or another meeting, if and only if, we see a mutual opportunity in near future.

So everything that we do as a part of this kind of networking, most of the times can be termed as opportunistic. During this process, we ignore those contacts who do not have any value in near future, who in future may play a significant role. But by then, we either have lost their contact info, do not remember the name or the face, thus limiting the effectiveness of the offline networking event, if there is no follow up.

An online networking activity might come handy in such a case. Trend nowadays is to open up the event attendee database via wikis, blogs, online groups, event calendars with RSVPs etc, which in future allow us the attendee to network long after the event is over.

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. To reach a person at the other end of the chain of acquaintances, a decade back, we relied on direct mails or introduction from known acquaintances. Today we have online networking sites for our rescue.

My guess is almost everybody who is reading this post is a member of one or the other networking site. Be it for business needs, social needs, information source, closed groups, artifacts (photos, files, videos, music etc) sharing, blogging, dating etc. Over years, I too have been part of many networking sites, and many of my findings about these sites, and its members are not so satisfactory.

Cross your heart and answer these questions.

  • Have you ever fully realized the network you have built?
  • How many people you added unnecessarily and repented later?
  • Have you got what you were expecting when you decided to use that network?
  • Overall how many people in your network have gained from you? Gain here can be measured in terms of information, expertise, help, sale, money etc.
  • Overall how much you have gained from them?

Over time, you get bored to go to that site, have unwanted people on your list, spam, information overflow or dearth of necessary information in quick and easily accessible way. 

Is there a solution? Is there a network that really adds value to you and your network?