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Keith – I feel let down

November 15, 2010 6 comments

I’ve thought long and hard about writing this post. I feel that I’ve been let down by someone on the very outskirts of my Personal Network – but it’s still disappointing (maybe I’m just too sensitive).

Regular readers of the blog will know that I’ve read and reviewed two books by Keith Ferrazzi – and more recently created a post talking about and recommending a free webinar he was offering to preview his Executive Relationship Management Course.

Well since, the point of recommendation, I feel that I’ve been spammed. I’m not bothered for myself – but I feel let down that I’ve

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recommended and passed on my trust to others (and if they’ve signed up, they might feel spammed too). I’ve had messages like:-

-> Emergency…Keith is going nuts on the webinar…
-> Okay, so maybe we miscalculated…maybe a LOT…
-> Don’t you need more sales and bigger revenues?
-> Your last, last chance for the program…
-> 13 hours and 25 minutes

All emails in that “old style” direct marketing format of calls to actions, links – and PSs!

I feel like I’d met a guy who I liked a couple of times who was an insurance salesman – then invited him to a dinner party with friends and he proceed to dole out business cards and try to sell insurance to my pals.

I can understand why it’s happened. The numbers give a clue – only 250 places, Premium Plus places at $3,988 and Premium places at $1,988. So that’s either a $1m or $500k sales target! We all have to earn a living.

My favourite quote on Personal Networks is from Mick Cope (who wrote the FT book, “Personal Networking”)

“By professional networking I mean a set of close contacts or associates who will help deliver my value to market. The key thing is that these are people who will ‘help’ you in the market, THEY ARE NOT THE MARKET. Sorry for the full-on letters, but my definition of a network is ‘people who will help amplify my personal capital in the market’, not a bunch of friends and colleagues to whom I try to sell under the guise of giving them a great opportunity. Active management of these people is not networking; it is client relationship management, a whole different ball game and one deliberately not covered in this book.”

It’s a great mantra – and you can see why Keith’s actions make me feel let down.

I am sure all people who have signed up for the course will learn a lot (I think no less of Keith’s professional abilities), I hope that Keith has made that $1m sales target (his talent does deserve reward) – but the outcome that I wish for most is that Keith reflects that in the process he’s drifted in to becoming the “Networking Jerk” (chapter 6 – “Never Eat Alone”). Keith’s changed from being the Farmer to the Hunter.

The reason I still like the books – and think well of Keith (even though today I feel let down) is that in both his books his ability to recognise and acknowledge his mistakes shows his humanity.

It’s also a lesson for me. I’m just about to launch a commercial venture alongside my passion for Personal Networks. I am sure that in my enthusiasm, eagerness (and maybe a little greed) along the way I will make mistakes too. I now realise there is a very sensitive line in my relationship with my Personal Network.

“The Social Network” – and the school drugs & alcohol chat…

October 17, 2010 Leave a comment

I had a really thought provoking Saturday…

In the morning, my wife and I had been invited to our children’s school for a “Parents Alcohol and Drugs Information Talk” – and on Friday I’d read Mastin Kipp’s blog at the Huffington Post “‘The Social Network': 13 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Take Away” – and decided to spend Saturday afternoon at the cinema.

What did they both have in common – you guessed it Personal Network support…. (stop me if I am becoming a PN bore – do I see it in everything??!!)

Let’s deal with the less obvious first

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– what has Alcohol and Drugs got to do with Personal Networks? Well, our children’s PSHE (Personal, Social & Health Education) co-ordinator stressed one key point about the school’s strategy to protect our kids – they want the children to form in to groups at an early stage to support each other. They encourage these small, tight groups so that they deal with issues on a collective and supportive basis. Individuals feel that it’s not “peer” pressure to do things – because they work as a group to support individuality. Cool? I hope so – because I think their network of friends will be the best protection to the big, bad world that some of the talk illustrated.

“The Social Network” was a good film – not great – but I loved the topic. In the HuffPost, Mastin outlines the “lessons” of the film – so please do take time to review his blog. For anyone interested in business, social networking – it’s a must see.

From my point of view, the key lesson was that you really need a Personal “support” Network around you to stay sane in any business (small like most – or huge like Facebook). Marc Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder featured in the film, really didn’t seem to have this (partly through his destructiveness – and partly through poor judgement). He’d have done well to read Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Who’s Got Your Back” – before embarking on his enterprise (maybe he should read it even now!).

The film’s story is fiction (based on fact). Even so, you can see how his individuality and focus drove him to create Facebook – but his isolation (and not having a real “friend” to trust) lead him to make some poor decisions. I was lucky in business to have had good people around me – including my wife, who was (and is) always a trusted friend and mentor who “has my back”. However, I could see in the film many of my experiences in creating, building and exiting a business – especially the casualties in friendship/trust along the way.

Anyway, both my morning session at school and afternoon at the movies convinced me that a Personal Network is going to be the most valuable asset I have in my life – and hopefully my children will realise the importance too. Let’s hope Marc finds the same – because you can have all the money in the world … but things get done (and you live your life) through your relationships with people!

LinkedIn – Love it or cancel it!? Facebook – don’t know what to do with it.

October 13, 2010 2 comments

I’m in danger of becoming a bit of a Personal Network “bore”. At the moment, it is a novelty with friends and contacts to discuss the area of Personal Networking (they’ve been wondering when I would end my prolonged spell of “funemployment”) – and I’m really enthusiastic to chat!

Here are a couple of example conversations from today around social networking.

This afternoon, I chatted over a cup of tea after watching my son’s rugby match with a mum who is a professional life-coach. We both have an interest in social networking – and are connected on LinkedIn. She’s currently having a race with one of her friends to see who can reach 500 connections first! She likes LinkedIn – and uses it for

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Alumni meetings for a large company she used to work for. It’s a good way to keep in touch with her more distant network.

Then, this evening, another contact mailed me with feedback he had had from an American colleague about LinkedIn.

“I have cancelled LinkedIn because of on-line spoofing. I think that it is not a waste of time at all but the harassment is simply not worth it. All is monitored by Homeland Security here but these computer sites are being used here in the United States simply to harass people – thus destroying their networking value.”

Interesting reaction. In discussions with my friend, I compared it to someone cutting off their home phone-line 20 years ago because they got a few sales calls. The challenge is that we are in a “gold rush” in the area of social networking – and you can therefore end up in a territory with a lot of cowboys! I’d be more inclined to stick with it and find ways of avoiding the cowboys.

The two examples above – show the diverse reactions to LinkedIn (race to the top … or press the cancel button!).

I am facing a challenge at the moment – what to do about my Facebook account? As you will have read in earlier blogs, I use it mainly to keep an eye on what my children are up to!

Yesterday, in a quiet moment, I thought I would have a play and tweak some Facebook settings. I made my Birthday private – it’s not that I’m worried about my age, but (as a Brit) I find birthday greetings from distant contacts a bit strange. Also, I thought I would follow Mitch Joel’s advice and have a consistent photo in all social media. No sooner had I done this – than my sister (who I don’t see enough of) had written on my wall “Wow! Distinguished new profile pic! xx”. It was nice that she’d “pinged” me – but embarrassing that I’d tried to change to a “corporate” look in her space!

Anyway, I reverted to being Facebooky – and have now changed to a picture of me and my sister as kids on the beach!!

Do I close it down, lighten up – or have different Facebook pages for Phil the human and Phil the entrepreneur??

Decisions, decisions….

Penpals & Pensioners

September 19, 2010 1 comment

Starting a new venture around Personal Networks has been a topic of conversation around the family dinner table. Our children (aged 11 & 12) are fascinated by mum and dad considering working again – after nearly 5 years of being “funemployed”. Also, we met up with with Carrie’s parents this week for supper – and they wanted to hear all about what we planned to be doing.

Somehow, during our discussions of Personal Networks with the children, we got onto the subject of how we kept in touch with friends when we were younger. We did a little comparison of our children’s Facebook activities and “friends” (yes, I know strictly they are too young!) – and our mates

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growing up in the 70s & 80s. Comparisons were….

* We both have/had roughly the same number of close friends that we chat to/hang out with every day. 4-8 seems a good figure on this.
* Mum & Dad did know people around the school, activities, etc – but just really knew their names. Millie has 247 Friends on Facebook & Joe has 319! Our children (and their Facebook Friends) seem to be like impassioned football sticker collectors. These seem to still come from the same base of school and activities – but their stretch through the age groups is interesting. Was there anything quite like this in our generation?
* The kids couldn’t understand the idea of Penpals (for the younger readers of this blog – penpals were children of similar age abroad that kids of my generation exchanged letters with Also, see Wikipedia’s overview.). The concept of writing long letters (often practicing your feeble skills in another language), sending this by post – and then waiting some weeks for a reply was very difficult for Millie and Joe to understand. I know that my sister (now 50) still has a couple of Penpals that she keep in contact – and has in fact visited in USA & Austria. Who will be this generation’s penpals?

Our children have amazing tools available to access and communicate with a wide range of people. It will be intriguing to see whether they will be traveling around the world when they are 50 meeting their Facebook friends?

Supper with Carrie’s parents was an eye opener. No need to explain to an older generation the benefits and value of a Personal Network. Gerry was a bank manager before he retired – and a network was important to him to support his working life. He joined (and actively participated) in traditional networking groups like RoundTable and Rotary. Also, Marina had to use her networking skills to “settle in the family” as Gerry was moved around to different branches with his job.

The most interesting part of the discussion for me was to understand the challenges faced by pensioners as their Personal Network dwindles. While Millie & Joe race up the league table of Facebook Friends – sadly, Gerry and Marina see their network reduce as age takes its toll. Also, the traditional “networking” methods of their generation (meeting up face-to-face and spending time together) – still further reduce the opportunity to be in touch/communicate as mobility/routine get in the way. Gerry and Marina do a great job of maintaining links with their network – in fact this year they have made a resolution to meet up with an old friend that they’ve not seen in ages at least once a month. However, they both see that the tools that Millie and Joe use on Facebook (status updates, short bursts of chat, passing on bits of info, etc) – would be great for pensioners of their generation who suffer isolation and loneliness.

Keeping in touch, building a Personal Network, choosing the right form of communication are all challenges – no matter what generation. Finally, please take the time to read this blog post on Wired – it’s a sad account of when the use of modern communication with a close friend misses the mark!

Facebook Friends vs. Quality Connections

September 13, 2010 2 comments

While exploring the world of Personal Networks – I have spent most of my time “hanging out” at LinkedIn. It’s more business focussed (which I understand) – and probably more attuned to my age group. However, I do have a Facebook presence – which, as explained in previous blogs, is really there just to keep an eye on what the kids are up to (until they block me!!)

I do believe that future trends are more likely to be driven by a younger age group – and this last week I have been taking some time to try and understand the Facebook phenomena. I’ve come across two interesting bits

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of research – both support my gut feel that Facebook has a difficult model to sustain.

First discovery came via the chaps at the Simply Zesty. They created a very interesting blog post saying that “Facebook is trying to be too many things for too many people”.   In amongst their views, they reference the work of Paul Adams – an executive at Google who researches User Experience. I encourage you to go to Slideshare and look at Paul’s presentation on Facebook, Friends and social networking in general – or scroll through below. Paul draws great analogies with the real world – and shows how the Facebook model of “friends” just doesn’t work.

The second discovery came via a chance dinner conversation with a contact. I mentioned my new project and he explained his wife works for The Future Company – a leading consultancy on future facing-research and innovation. Amazing what this networking turns up…. I had a look at their blog this afternoon – and there’s an excellent post (supported by their research) on people losing interest in Facebook. Here’s a paragraph from the post that makes a very interesting point:-

“Curiously, this also tallies with a general trend that we have picked up with our Global Monitor survey this year – when asked, people in almost every country overwhelmingly expressed a preference for a small number of quality connections they can rely on rather than a large quantity of connections they can call on (levels of agreement are practically the same across all age groups as well – which you might not necessarily expect from those gregarious Millennials). Facebook’s business model is built on the opposite assumption – that people want to continually add as many contacts as possible (and then lump them all together in the same group as their ‘friends’).”

I’m beginning to draw the conclusion that developing your Personal Network Value is similar to growing a business. In commerce, we’ve all met (and occasionally been) the busy fools who chase Turnover (Revenue) & Activity – with no eye on Profit (Income) & Value. It seems to me that currently Social Networking is mostly about the race to get more contacts – but I believe this will soon be replaced by a more mature view of developing a small, quality network to help personal growth and value.

C.R.I.S.T. – Now I RELIABLY know who I should Trust!

September 5, 2010 3 comments

I finished Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s book “Trust Agents” while on holiday. It’s inspirational – with nuggets and ideas throughout. I tried out a new method for marking up interesting points in the book – using Snopake Index Tab Arrow High Lighters – as you can see from the picture there were lots of gems! Think the arrows will work out more expensive than buying the book…

The book is definitely a 5 star rating – I really like their style and ethos. Key points being that you should focus on building relationships – and sales will

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eventually come to you. Becoming an Agent Zero (getting in the centre of things) is important. Also, as mentioned in my last post, they argued that it’s OK to break Dunbar’s number and have more than 150 contacts (but only in each different network).

My favourite section was the Trust Test. Chris and Julien have adapted a formula originally thought up by David Maister, Charles H. Green and Robert M. Galford in “Trust Adviser” (another one for my reading list!). They put forward that Trust has 4 components that can be put together in an equation that gives a value for trusworthiness! Cool… And here it is:-

(C x R x I)/S = T

So Trust is calculated by multiplying Credibility by Reliability by Intimacy and dividing by Self-Orientation.

Credibility = the quality of being convincing or believable. Higher score the better
Reliability = consistently good in quality and performance. They turn up on time.
Intimacy = the measure of the closeness of your relationship. Feeling comfortable with someone. It’s an emotional judgement
Self-Orientation = low self-orientation would be if you had enough confidence to recommend a better competitor. High self-orientation would be the guy who is only interest in you because they want to make a sale (and now!). Lower score is better here – as it’s divided in to the other factors.

It made me think about the people in my network who I inherently like – but often don’t totally trust. Later in “Trust Agents”, Julien and Chris hit the issue on the head – “RELIABILITY IS THE BIG SECRET”. Interestingly, the other factors are more linked to people’s character (and hard to change/train) – however, there is no real excuse for not being reliable (it’s a matter of personal commitment). None of us are perfect on that score (I have in my head a particular apology I need to send after completing this post to someone I forgot to thank for a bit favour – whoops!) – but reliability is the thing we all could work on to make sure we gain others trust.

Thank you Messieurs Maister, Green, Galford, Brogan and Smith for this equation and insight into Trust and Reliability in your Personal Network.

150 Connections on LinkedIn – should I retire on Dunbar’s Number?

September 3, 2010 4 comments

The day has come when the worlds of Dunbar’s number (which I love/respect/believe in) and my LinkedIn connections coincide! It’s been a tricky 24 hours, when the LinkedIn counter hit 149 – and my commitment and belief in Robin Dunbar’s number (150) collided.

Typical of my active and creative mind, I tried to find several routes around this:-

1. Find a justification for not complying to Robin’s thinking… Well – I’ve just been reading Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s Book “Trust Agents”. On page 226 they give me the perfect opt out by

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saying “The Web allows us to work within Dunbar’s number. It means that we can build business relationships in different ways: Instead of just locally or in a specific vertical, we can channel and stripe and slide in many different ways.” Read more on Chris’s blog. Great – I can have 150 people in lots of different places!!

2. Can I increase the number from 150?… Amazingly, the FT Weekend came up with just that. Page 30-31 of the Money Section last weekend had an article entitled “Build your connections, but go for quality, not quantity.” I can now safely increase my 150 to 250 … yipee. “Andy Lopata, who has built a business advising others how to network, claims that in an age of mass social networking, too many people concentrate on the quantity of connections they make rather the quality. “It is who needs you and what they say about you that counts, and that only comes from building better relationships, not necessarily more relationships,” he says. Lopata recalls a speaking engagement last year, where someone showed off the 2,000 contacts on his Blackberry address book. Lopata was not impressed. “My response was: ‘If you phone those 2,000 people, are they willing to take your call?’ If not, then you are just carrying around a telephone directory.” A philosophy that drives Lopata’s thinking is the Law of 250, the idea that there is an optimum number of contacts to acquire. The concept was made famous long before the advent of LinkedIn and Twitter by Joe Girard, an American salesman who earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for his prowess at selling Chevrolet cars. Lopata admits that his own database of 4,000 contacts is too big, but qualifies his support of the Law of 250 by noting that good networkers also have a broad range of contacts. “You have to get the balance right,” he says.” Thank you Andy Lopata and Joe Girard – I can have another 100 connections!!!

3. Quit while I’m ahead/Go out with a bang… What better way to go – than to make your 150th connection on LinkedIn ….. ROBIN DUNBAR!! Well, I penned a small invite (my very first on LinkedIn to someone I did not directly know). Amazingly, Robin has only ONE connection on LinkedIn – go figure!!

The result was…. I received a reply back to my LinkedIn invite from the lovely Kathryn York. I’d invited Kathryn a month ago – and she finally came back to me to pop in as my number 150 connection! I am delighted. Kathryn is the Archivist at Wolfgang’s Vault in San Francisco. We met when she showed my son and myself around their music, video and art archives at Easter when we were stranded under the Ash Cloud. If you ever want to know about music from the 60s/70s/80s in the US – this is the lady!

Kathryn’s reply to my request to be a connection (and if she used LinkedIn much) was eloquent – “I don’t use Linkedin much, or my twitter or my facebook and myspace hasn’t seen me in so very long… I do know that folks find all of this does help with connecting (kind of like if I’d ever answer that ringing home phone), so I say thank you for reaching out and I shake your virtual hand with a connection acceptance!” Having a great Personal Network is a lot about diversity – and I’m very happy to have Kathryn in my 150!

I will await to see if Robin becomes my 151st connection (and his second) – but for now I will continue to extend my network onwards (and upwards from 150) with diverse, fun, stylish connections like Kathryn.

Triple Paths – blogging, Personal Networks and “Finding an Angle”

August 11, 2010 2 comments

Well, it’s been over a week since the last post.  It’s not that I’ve been twiddling my thumbs – it’s just the triple paths of blogging, investigating personal networks and trying to work out the commercial opportunity all compete for and absorb my time!

BLOGGING – as you will know, I have set out to investigate Personal Networks – and specifically being able to visualise them.  Well, I thought that I should start to make a commitment to visualise my findings on the subject and have been in conversation with the best in the business – Lee LeFever at Common Craft. I’ve also been checking out a recommended course on quick-fire video blogging from Gideon Shalwick at Rapid Video Blogging. Interestingly Lee is probably out of my price range – and Gideon has given me enough tips for free that I don’t need to take the course! The research continues (along with should I move from WordPress.com to Worpress.org!).

PERSONAL NETWORKS – I have finally finished Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Who’s Got Your Back”. It’s only been a slow read because of

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so many things to do – and wanting to take in so many other books. It’s a great personal development book – and it’s the best I have read that illustrates that your Personal Network has a “core”. Keith believes that even with a wide network, you need a very close group of people that look out for you in times of pressure/trouble. Keith uses his book title “Who’s Got Your Back” to pull this “core” role together – but also runs useful analogies of the 12 Apostles (even taking the analogy further when a rogue apostle leaves!). I am impressed by the way Keith opens his heart in parts of the book. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs about his first book “Never Eat Alone”, Keith is a confident guy – but in this book he really lays himself bare to help people understand his networking principles (Four Mind-sets of Generosity, Vulnerability, Candor and Accountability). The books threatens to peter out (with long explanations of his business’s work with clients) – but I loved the final chapter where he appeals to us all to “escape silo nation”. I hate the modern way of working in “silos” – so what a great “rally call” for me!

“Finding an Angle” – I am just starting reading a new book – it’s self-published by Neal Schaffer of Windmill Network and called “Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn”. I’ve become a fan of Neal’s blog – and he’s doing a great job on the gradual conversion of a LinkedIn cynic. Just finished Preface and first chapter – and already inspired by his growth of contacts from zero to 18,000 plus. Will be interested to see whether he commercialises his niche. Meanwhile, I am contemplating how Gideon gives away all his video teasers (which are very educational) – and leads you in to a course for $997, when Keith’s book leads to his Relationship Masters Academy for $2,000. We’re all looking for an angle- maybe I should consider training!!!??? … or a book….

Finally, I must say that I have enjoyed my “test study” with LinkedIn (reported a couple of blogs ago). I’m now up to 131 connections – and have pencilled in my notebook to get together to breakfast/lunch with at least 30 of them before the end of the year. There have been some diverse connections already (old contact who watched a friend perform at Edinburgh Festival, old photographer friend who can help with Artist in Residence project I am helping to initiate at Belvoir, etc).

If you are blogger/personal networker thrashing around the blogosphere trying to make sense of it all – do drop me a note or comment. Email is philobr@gmail.com if you want to mail direct.

Sent from my iPhone, so please forgive typos ..

August 2, 2010 3 comments

Well, I thought that I’d give LinkedIn a bit of a run out – seeing as the last blog post had been having some fun at its expense.

Remember – I’m not a big “networker” (especially on-line). At the start of this blog I had just over 60 connections – and had not pro-actively sought out connections. Also, for the last 4 years I have been “funemployed” after selling my business – so, I thought that I might be a good “test case” to give LinkedIn a real test drive.

I dug out my old contacts (about 1,400 from when I was working full-time) – mixed with a few people that I’ve got to know through projects in the last few years …. and tested how creating connections worked “en-masse” with LinkedIn. Basically, I trawled

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through the names – and chose 50 who I had enjoyed meeting/working with at various times. I mailed them each with a personal message, a request to connect – and a final paragraph that said “I’m just starting a project around “Personal Networks” – and your name came up on LinkedIn. Do you use it much?”.

I mailed the 50 over the last 24 hours – and the feedback so far is…..

* 5 Out of Office replies (not a great time of year to send these out – as people are on summer holidays/vacations)
* 31 Replied (29 Connections & 2 replied saying they did not really use it).

Some stats on the 50….

* Only 27% of them had pictures on their profile
* The average number of connections my contacts had was 96 (only one had 500+)
* 12 of them had less than 10 connections

The really nice news was, it was great to make contact again. Some really nice people who I had lost contact with – thank you LinkedIn. Other specific bonuses were that:-

* At least two lunches are to be fixed up in London in September
* I opened up discussions about a photo archive project that I’ve been following for a while
* A connection asked if I could help out with contacts in the Equestrian world – and I was able to make a couple of intros (bizarrely – didn’t realise my network stretched so far!)
* I was able to make recommendations to a couple of contacts who had recently been made redundant on how to get best use out of LinkedIn (pointed them towards Neal Schaffer’s excellent blog)
* I found someone who in the last year had got two projects through his LinkedIn network (it does work!)

…. and finally, the most exciting discovery of all….. the title of this blog post. “Sent from my iPhone, so please forgive typos ..”! What a great idea – at the bottom of the reply from my former colleague Graham Lovelace (http://www.lovelace.co.uk/contact.php). If you saw it here first – please give credit to Graham! I’ve always switched this signature off on Blackberrys and iPhones – but I will be using this from now on.

Thanks again LinkedIn – been a very pleasant 24 hours … and I’m now over the magic 100 connections!!

P.S. A little “don’t try this at home” warning. As I did all this research, mailings, analysis of connections, etc – I suddenly got a problem that every click was followed by a request to upgrade to LinkedIn’s Premium Account. See this story about LinkedIn accounts being suspended for overuse – I’ll lay off being so connected for the next few days.

[Update on 19th August - 45 have now replied from the 50]

LinkedIn – to What?

July 28, 2010 5 comments

You can tell that I am struggling to get through my summer book pile! Reverted to doing some “research” on Personal Networks on YouTube this afternoon. Take a look

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at this video from SuperNews – didn’t know whether to laugh or cry (so, just cried laughing!)

UPDATE:  I found this when on-line abroad – and apparently this cannot be viewed on YouTube on the UK (and some other territories). You can however see the clip on SuperNews own site at:- http://current.com/shows/supernews/91503521_linked-in-to-what.htm

I agree with quite a lot of the sentiments of this vid – but do think LinkedIn is part of the “arsenal” if you are serious about building and developing your Personal Network.

On the day that Mashable reports that LinkedIn is now worth $2billion – who is having the best/last laugh?

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