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Posts Tagged ‘value’

End “who you know” culture – War declared on nepotism!

April 5, 2011 10 comments

Well there’s nothing more “King Canutish” than trying to stem the tide against human nature! Today, the UK’s coalition government has declared war on nepotism. See the report here at the BBC website of an interview with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Regular readers of the blog will have seen a post about British culture called “Posh & Posher: Education & the Old Boys Network” earlier in the year. The main point of the post was that Personal Networks can bring influence and power. Alongside this was a more worrying trend that the increasingly closed network of “old school chums” in government leads to our politicians being out of touch.

I happened to be watching breakfast TV when Clegg was being interviewed. I nearly choked on my cornflakes!

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He said: “We will stop all informal internships in Whitehall, in government, so that you can’t just have this network where people get an internship because of who they know. They should get an internship because of what they know.”

I’m a big fan of meritocracy – we’ve all worked with people who have little talent, but great connections! However, what needs to be recognised is that in the absence of knowing a person, we test out people ultimately through reference to others. Here are two personal examples from the last week that illustrate that “who you know” is so important.

First example, I’m planning to invest in a small US start-up in the area of crowd sourcing. I had a conference call with one of the advisers of the business who is based in San Francisco last week. We’d not met/spoken before – but I have the luxury of checking out his CV via Wikipedia and LinkedIn. He can do the same for me. CVs over – how do we connect. Well, he knows and is trusted by my friend (and start-up founder), Todd, who I’ve know for 20 years. At the end of our first call, the guy in SF floated “do you know ****”? No, but I did know someone who knew **** well – who used to be my companies chairman – and onwards. We’re all reassured by the trust of the “who we know”. CVs are the “what you know”!

Secondly, I had a tweet last night from a Friend of a Friend – Chris Book. We’ve not met, and this was his first tweet to me. He’s from Bath and is very good pal of one of my first connections in my new home town. He tweeted me because of who I know – and knowing my interest in Personal Networks. He wanted my opinion. His tweet was:-

Interesting thought (ish) – my last contract I got through linked in (exactly 3 years ago) this one through twitter

My opinion is that LinkedIn is primarily a CV – and has filled a gap in finding candidates, collating information. The “recommends” service has little use. If you wanted to business with someone or employ, you would pick up the phone/email and check with their connections. Twitter has moved this on so much, you can see whether people are genuinely active – and who wants to know them and engage! Twitter gives the who you really know and have a relationship with – and how they interact with you in a transparent format. LinkedIn gives you the “what you know” and “what you’ve done” presentation.

Sorry Nick! I’m a big fan of the coalition but you need to accept that “who you know” will always be our way of quickly building trust to offering partnerships, employment, opportunities – and internships! As Social Media develops Personal Networks will become more valuable every day. Everyone need to keep focussed on the “who you know”. It will always be the most important and valuable asset you have in life. The CV and application form doesn’t tell the true story….

Keeping Score?

October 10, 2010 2 comments

There’s a small news story in today’s FT Weekend about BNI (Business Network International) making an award to the UK’s most successful networker. Step forward 36-year-old Simon Johnson, who is a flooring specialist from East Anglia. The story is on the FT website – but you will need to register to get access.

The story says that over the past 12 months, Simon has generated his contacts £634,233 of business after creating 102 money-making

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referrals for his colleagues in the King’s Lynn BNI Chapter. It certainly shows the value of Personal Networks that are well managed – Simon seems an expert.

I am not sure whether Personal Networking is just about referrals (especially the measured and recorded type). In previous blog posts I have supported the view of people like Keith Ferrazzi (author of “Never Eat Alone”) that networking is not about keeping score. Also, one of my favourite quotes on networking is from Mick Cope (who wrote the FT’s book “Personal Networking”) – he puts forward the view that a network is about having contacts who support you, NOT that you sell to.

I find the BNI model interesting – but it does challenge my views on networking. The BNI’s “Handbook” – “Networking like a PRO” by Dr. Ivan Misner – makes a strong point about being a “Farmer” not a “Hunter”. I struggle to see how you are a “Farmer” when you keep score on a day-to-day basis. Does BNI – or Simon – get a “cut” of the referrals? Is this a “sale” to friends – or just the generosity of a good networker (with a small “thank you” attached).

I’m going to track down Simon in King’s Lynn – and ask him for his comments/thoughts. It would be good to meet an excellent personal networker – and I’d like to get his views on “keeping score”.

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.

Holiday Reading, Tom Peters and the Cheshire Cat

August 25, 2010 3 comments

I am off on holiday in the morning – and I’m going to split my reading time between finishing off my current Personal Network book – “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith (I can hear you fellow bloggers saying “I can’t believe you’ve not read that already!”), digging in to a “leisure” read by one of my favourite authors, Michael Dobbs (his new book – “The Reluctant Hero”) – and using Tom Peters “The Brand You” as a workbook to help set my personal objectives.

If you’ve not tried “The Brand You” book by Tom Peters – it’s a brilliant read. Mick Cope (whose book “Personal Networking” I reviewed in an earlier blog post) recommended the book to me. Mick said: “I have always loved the Brand You stuff by Tom Peters – which although was picked up by

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some people – never really found its mark.” After ordering a copy (it’s a classic from 1999 – but not too hard to find) I read it within 48 hours. I have always liked the passion of Tom Peters. I remember during tricky times in my business during the early 1990s playing the audio tape of “Thriving on Chaos” over and over in car as I tried to work my way through the development/growing pains of my company. I have no less enthusiasm for Tom’s work revisiting his teachings some 20 years on.

On the inside cover of the book, he lists his key ideas around Brand You – which he expands through the book. I will certainly be spending time deliberating on many of these ideas and questions:-

* “Routinely asks the Question: WHO AM I?/WHAT DO I WANT TO BE?” – Very relevant after 4 years being “funemployed”
* “Pursues Mastery of something!” Can I really become a Master of Personal Networks – and can I use this Mastery to help others?
* “Selects Clients v-e-r-y carefully/Rejects Clients who are a bad match” Cool discipline to have … and I have no excuse because I don’t need the work. Nice position to be in – but don’t cock up and get distracted by wanting to be all things to all men….
* “Is a Rolodex Maniac/Networks like Crazy!” Well you can tell this is a 1999 book (no mention of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). Glad he really values the role of Personal Networks in success.
* “Is a ‘Renewal Fanatic’/Cultivates curiosity/Takes every opportunity to learn s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g new!” I love change – and I’m enthused by learning about Personal Networks. How to I keep this curiosity focussed?

So, a time to review with some good books. I think the three key areas that I need to investigate to help understand my Personal Network journey are:-

* Personal Branding. As Tom puts it “Your are the CEO of your Life” – so I’d best understand and be able to present my “brand”
* Social Networking. It’s the buzz of the moment – and I love the digital age – but how does this fit in to Personal Networks? I believe it’s a smaller, and less important, part of our life than people currently think.
* Personal Objectives. Where do I want to go? Otherwise, all other things don’t have a focus or fall in to place. The Cheshire Cat expresses this best in Alice in Wonderland:-

“Which road do I take?” (Alice)
“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.”
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” (Cheshire Cat)

Holiday reading will be a lot less testing than the questions… Who I Am – and Where do I Want to Go!

My Network Value – £2.5m+

August 17, 2010 4 comments

I stumbled across a fun “tool” run by Xing called “My Network Value”. If you get a chance, have a play – it takes less

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than 5 minutes to complete.

Here is my result – and I’m over £2.5m richer than I thought I was!!!

Have a play – and let’s compare results. I think there were a couple of figures that I filled in that might have skewed the figures in my favour – can you guess what they were?

Their comments on my network are below:-

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Auto response – but very useful!

Mia, the rainshower, the Yellow Suit, Cuban Dance and Profit Power Economics

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, earlier in my blog, I did mention that I had a tenuous link to a person in my PNN (“Personal Network” Network). Mia de Kuijper is a world leading economist/strategist – with strong view on “power nodes”.

I have actually met Mia once – and reading her book “Profit Power” my thinking change from looking at solutions in the area of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to understanding the power of individual components/nodes (in my case people) in the new economy.

Anyway, my meeting with Mia was caused by an early arrival at

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a Theatre (near the London School of Economics) to watch Cuban Dance! There was a rain storm – and a bookshop was open at the back of LSE. My wife and I dashed for cover and were confronted by a staff getting ready to lock up – and a lady in a stunning yellow suit finishing signing books. Who could resist a book on economics! She kindly signed the book – and as well as brilliant night at the theatre … I got a great insight in to the power of positioning yourself correctly in the new economy.

In particular she introduced me to the work of Albert-László Barabási. She describes in her book his work on Internet search engines and Hollywood figures that produced “Powerlaw Networks”. Although the book focusses on the strategic positioning of businesses in the global market place – the principles are equally applicable to an individual finding their place in the world through finding the right place in their network (much like Barabási’s Hollywood figures did naturally!).

Mia’s book was certainly the first step in me stopping thinking of contacts as Rolodex cards or Outlook VCF files – and much more as nodes in our networks, stars in our solar system!

Thank you Mia.

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell – Review

July 22, 2010 2 comments

Now this book is a little older than my previous review (first published in 2000).  It’s a great read – not just for the insight to certain elements of Personal Networks.  If anyone wants to get a better understanding of psychology, how to be a better parent … or maybe even make significant changes in a country with limited resources (sounds like a relevant challenge) – this is the book to read.

Malcolm is a great writer/journalists – and mixes some solid research with anecdotes and interview.  It makes for a very enjoyable read.  The only section that seemed a little dated was on Sesame

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Street and Blues Clues (which revolutionised children’s TV in the 1970/80/90s) – but the rest was as relevant today as when written.

One of the best parts of the book was the short conclusion.  Often books finish off with an enthusiastic/rushed repetition of the main themes – but Malcolm leaves you with key thoughts/actions.

The two areas that significantly touched on Personal Networking were:-

*  Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.  I’ve mentioned the Connectors in a previous blog post.   The author explained these three types of characters well – and their role in the Tipping Point.  One thing he did not identify is how high a percentage of us have these characteristics.  I’ll have to research further on-line – or maybe ask him on his blog – http://www.gladwell.com/

*  Dunbar’s Number. He explains the principle of humans naturally having a most efficient group size of 150 people. Robin Dunbar (from Oxford University) has done research in to ancient civilisations – and modern business groups … and 150 keeps on recurring. There’s a great story about the Gore organisation (known for Gore-Tex) who only create buildings with 150 car park spaces, and when people start parking on the grass … they create a new building/division. Malcolm covers Dunbar’s ideas really well – and has set me on course to research this more thoroughly by reading Robin’s latest book – How Many Friends Does One Person Need?: Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks.

Recommended reading – the research is great fun (my wife got bored with me telling her the amazing facts!!). I’m currently on a beach holiday – so will do the MindMap of the book when I get back to base. Anyone else read this book?

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