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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

If LinkedIn closed down – would you REALLY miss it?

February 15, 2011 14 comments

I’ve been wading through LinkedIn’s IPO registration document. It’s called an S-1 and can be found on the SEC site in the US. I used to spend time wading through these things when the main competitor in my photo business, Getty Images, were listing in the US. The language has got even drier and risk averse. Do have a read – but you will have to skip over a substantial part of the document that tells you why they might fail. Here’s a section I found particularly “entrepreneurial” … must have driven the “forward looking” execs mad…

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This prospectus, including the sections entitled “Prospectus Summary,” “Risk Factors,” “Use of Proceeds,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business,” contains forward-looking statements. In some cases you can identify

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these statements by forward-looking words such as “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “could,” “would,” “project,” “plan,” “expect” or the negative or plural of these words or similar expressions. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the following: …………

I had been chatting to a friend about how we use social networking. He’s not a fan of LinkedIn – the classic argument of “you only go there if you are looking to find a new job”. However, he did make a good point: “If LinkedIn closed down tomorrow – would you really miss it?”

It got me thinking. Then today, I was pointed in the direction of a post from 2009 by Lea Woodward entitled “What If Twitter Went Down & Never Came Back Up?” How dependent are we on social media?

Let’s take a look at LinkedIn’s S-1 filing. The two elements that I highlighted – in amongst the legal backside watching – were:-

We believe we are transforming the way people work by connecting talent with opportunity at massive scale. Our goal is to provide a global platform capable of mapping every professional’s experience, skills and other relevant professional data to his or her professional graph, including connections with colleagues and business contacts.

and

Business Model with Powerful Network Effects. The size and growth of our member base, the number of enterprises and professional organizations that use our platform, and the amount of rich and accurate information generated by our members increase the value we deliver to all participants in our network. A larger member base provides more opportunities to form professional connections for members, as well as increased opportunities to identify and attract talent for enterprises and professional organizations. At the same time, an increasing number of enterprises and professional organizations accessing our network enhances the relevance for members who stand to benefit from professional insights and opportunities. We believe the breadth and depth of our network would be difficult to replicate and represents a significant competitive advantage.

It seems to me that in the trade for free use of LinkedIn’s platform – they are benefiting from the network effect immensely. Personally, I find LinkedIn an interesting peripheral service that helps get a perspective on who I know – and keeps me in touch with what they are doing.

Are the key relationships in my Personal Network supported or “managed” through LinkedIn. Definitely NOT!

If the doom and gloom of the LinkedIn prospectus all came home to roost – would I REALLY miss it? I got over SixDegrees.com closing down during the .com fall out over 10 years ago – so I could get over LinkedIn closing its doors too.

I’d be interested in hearing about how critical LinkedIn is to how you carry out your work. What’s your opinion?

[Have now created a LinkedIn Poll. Please take the time to vote –
http://linkd.in/gaeWb1]

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What impression am I making? Who do I know? What do I know about them? … and many more questions – SUMMARY

February 8, 2011 4 comments

Well, it’s been a great experience pulling together this three part series. I hope that in reading it, you have found some insight in to your Personal Network – I certainly have in writing it.

I’ve reviewed three new products/service – from MyWebCareer, Connected and Nimble. I have also had the privilege to interview the founders of each business.

The first step with each of these solutions is going off to the “cloud” and pulling together personal information

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from the likes of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. However, each solution has a different angle on aggregating this information.

I started this series of posts by asking a series of questions? They were:-

* What impression am I making?
* Who do I know?
* What do I know about them?

My exploration of the value of Personal Networks constantly throws up questions – and these are only three of many.

What impression am I making?

MyWebCareer, undoubtedly answers this question. Although, like everything in life – it’s only an opinion.

If you are developing and cultivating your Personal Network – you should be concerned about your “brand” and how you are perceived by your network. I don’t see any reason for not giving it a try – and using its clever scoring system to bench mark your Personal Brand and on-line presence. I’d also recommended this service to Personal Brand consultants (like Beth Campbell Duke) – it’s a simple way to get clients thinking about how they shape up … and how they can improve. I will certainly diary time each month for a brief review of which direction my MyWebCareer score is moving – and why.

So, this is the easy bit of the post – if you want this question answering .. then just log in to MyWebCareer.

Who do I know? What to I know about them?

This is a tough one. The undoubted, sure fire winner of the commercial race is Nimble! It’s driven by an inspirational founder, Jon Ferrara – with the conventional CRM customer base waiting with open arms for a Social CRM solution. It will work for SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) at all levels from management to sales staff to customers.

However, my interest is in Personal Networks. As regular readers will know, my favourite quote 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…”

This is the third time I’ve quoted this in my blog – it sums up the idea of a Personal Network for me. Mick will be charging me royalties soon….

During the interview with Sachin Rekhi, the founder of Connected, we discussed who was his customer. He said: “We looked at delivering this products to companies – chasing the VP of Sales. However, we decided that Connected is a more personal product – and we’re committed to take the harder track of acquiring customers one at a time.”

So, for someone with the long-term/life-long strategic goal of cultivating and developing their Personal Network – I think Sachin has set the best strategy. Unfortunately, this does not make it a sure fire commercial winner like Nimble! Getting people to stand back, take stock, work out where they are going – and recognising that their Personal Network is the key to long-term development will be a challenge.

While writing this series of posts, trying out the software and interviewing the founders, I’ve started to get a much better feel for the support needed for a Personal Network to function. The “Who do I know? What to I know about them?” is a fundamental building block in this.

I’ve also taken a look back my blog post “Personal Networks, Soloware and ‘The Individual is the new Group'”. In summary, that post makes the argument that the power of the individual through “Soloware” is much greater than that of the Enterprise through “Groupware”.

From all this deliberation, I am starting to understand that the Linchpin society put forward by Seth Godin in his book (indispensable, unique people are the future) – means that enterprise driven CRM systems are not the solutions required for the social media connected 21st century.

I always believe that when I am getting to grips with a complex issue, if I can visualise it (or in my case create a block diagram) that I am getting near a solution. Here’s my first iteration:-

Here the individual has their Personal Network, gathered from the “cloud” – which we see in solutions like Connected and Nimble. However, the significant difference that I envisage is that the enterprises we engage with as “Linchpins” to deliver projects will need to give access to their corporate information in the same cloud based way.

This will demand a whole new level of trust between individuals and enterprise – and a shift of power. In our new world – The Personal Network is king!

Thank you to Nip, Sachin and Jon – I’ve really enjoyed connecting with you … and wish you and your ventures every success.

What impression am I making? Who do I know? What do I know about them? … and many more questions – PART 3

February 7, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve enjoyed writing this series of posts. It’s been a privilege to “be in the room” with some inspirational startup founders/entrepreneurs.

Let’s get the hard bit out of the way first. Despite my promise at the end of Part 2, this post – reporting back on Nimble and interviewing their founder Jon Ferrara – will not include my summary. I’ll do that tomorrow… Think of it as a 3 part post and summary… I know, I know, how can you ever trust me again! Sorry.

Jon, as I mentioned in the post last week, was the founder of Goldmine – a ground breaking CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool

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from 20 years ago (in fact it probably defined CRM!). He’s a busy guy – and I really appreciated that he was prepared to give me an hour out of his busy schedule to do a Skype video call.

We seemed to hit it off from the start. After Jon telling me how warm it was in Santa Monica (and showing me he was in short sleeves and shorts) I turned around my camera and showed him the sunset view of the Alps from my chalet in Switzerland. We chatted for a while about the pleasure we had shared in selling our businesses – and then taking time-out to spend with our young families growing up.

Then Jon kicked in to telling me about his new venture, Nimble – and I knew straight away he was focussed on success. Earlier in the year, I wrote a post about how I was struggling to find my way and whether I could bring a team together and achieve a second entrepreneurial success. My post was base on an analogy around Pink Floyd and the success of their Dark Side of the Moon album. Well – I might have pulled back from thoughts of startup for now (hence the concentration on daily blogging) – but Jon’s undoubtedly got an idea for a platinum album that’s going to top the charts (again) for a long time. He’s a visionary….

His starting point this time is very, very different than his days as co-founder of Goldmine. Jon says: “I started Goldmine with $3,000 and an idea. It was the days of pink ‘while you were out’ slips and little black books called Daytimers. We had no loans and no venture capital.”

He continued: “We had absolutely no money for advertising, so I made friends with people who were writing about the space. The writers told me ‘we want to have stories about people using the products’ – so that’s what I gave them. Goldmine’s name got more column inches than anyone else.”

There was a strange Déjà vu feeling about all this. Back in the late 1990s, my business chose Goldmine – and we did the case study working with their solution partner. It’s still on Goldmine’s site (the company was acquired by Frontline in 1999 for tens of millions of dollars). Today, he’s taking time to chat and give time to a start-up blogger… Sound familiar.

Jon speaks at a 100 miles per hour. He warned me about this before he launched in to a presentation about Nimble and a walk through of the system. He talks so fast he could have a second career as a rapper!

Nimble is much more than a PRM (Personal Relationship Management), CRM or sCRM (Social CRM). In fact, Jon says: “I don’t like acronyms.” However, he does recognise that a world with social media creates new challenges. He says: “I want to help Nimble clients swim in the social river. Social Media is akin to the industrial revolution. If people and business don’t understand that it’s the place to manage relationships, listen and communicate – they are going to get killed.”

Jon’s reinvented himself, but with the same passion for helping people build relationships with customers (and colleagues). He’s cynical about the CRM business that he helped to build with Goldmine. He says: “You look at these systems with a screen laid out with 50 fields. That’s grandpa’s CRM system!” He also describes these systems as “stodgy and old school.”

I’d been given access to the Private Beta and had a play. I can imagine that for anyone coming from the structure of Goldmine or other enterprise CRM – this is the ideal transition to “swimming in the social river”. Jon showed me through some of the updates in the pipeline, He’s intent on making the interface even more visual. For example, losing the names and links and putting pen portraits anywhere he can. He’s building the system to be able to do absolutely everything a person/enterprise will need to make sales and build relationships. There are already a raft of integrations with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail, Imap, Google Calendar – and he sees no limit to the role Nimble will take in unification.

I asked Jon about how this would work in practice. I seem to remember the Goldmine salesman 15 years ago flashing me through screens at the speed of light – and I was convinced it could do everything I could ever dream of. Jon said: “I realise that with all these systems the 10% that people definitely use is contact management. The challenge is to get the 10% for relationships used. With Nimble, we are going to give the contact management away – that’s the free part. The rest will be the important bit – getting in to the conversation and building relationships.”

We talked about the “battle for the tabs”. As Jon shared his screen during the demo, I took a look at the tabs he had open in Google Chrome. It was a similar mix to mine – the usual suspects of GMail, Google Calendar, Hootsuite, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. For systems like Nimble to become THE contact/relationship/personal network service – they need to get on the tabs – and then push the others out (in my opinion). Jon said: “I want to get a space on there – and happy for the others to stay. However, Nimble will connect the dots in your life – we’ll help nurture those relationships, communicate and listen.”

Jon is preparing to market Nimble through his well worn path of “classic CRM resellers.” This is a very familiar strategy to how he built Goldmine. He sees the “sweet spot” as the “SME business users who are mostly ignored.” He defines these as anything from a single user to a typical 10-25 seat sale. He’s also keen to bring in individuals – and his proposed free contacts only service reflects this.

Jon has set up Nimble with a clear strategy in this new area of social media. He’s using tried and trusted methods to get to market – skills he learned building Goldmine. He’s also got the financial resources and clout to get what he needs done (some of the LinkedIn integration he showed me in beta was groundbreaking). Jon will find a shoal of “Grandpa’s CRM” users coming to swim with him in the “Social River.”

I’ll finish this post slightly flipantly, with a “British” twist on brand names. Nimble has a very fond place in the memories of my youth (I am showing my age). Nimble was a household name through British TV ads about a special bread to keep an eye on your weight/figure. Take a look at these ads – brought to you by the wonders of YouTube. One even features a very young Joanna Lumley. It will bring back memories for my older UK audience…

Jon’s Nimble is no lightweight – but it’s certainly going to fly! Do take the time and register for the Private Beta.

Back tomorrow, with a summary of where I think MyWebCareer, Connected and Nimble sit in the world of Personal Networks.

What impression am I making? Who do I know? What do I know about them? … and many more questions – PART 1

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

As regular readers will have noticed, I’ve moved my blog posts to a daily frequency. I was concerned that I’d find enough to write about – but in the last two weeks I’ve been struggling to filter buckets of ideas and prioritise topics.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to interview the co-founder of a new service called MyWebCareer – and expected that to be the sole topic of today’s post. However, today has seen the launch of a new Personal Relationship Management (PRM) service called Connected – and I’ve decided to feature both together in a two-part series!

The cross over of the services has given me much food for thought – so I will review

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separately and round up with conclusions in the second part.

As you can see from the title of this post, when you want to assess your Personal Network – there are a lot of questions to be answered. Both of these services provide answers – but in subtly different ways.

If Connected is offering PRM – then MyWebCareer is a PFM (Personal Footprint Manager). As well as test driving the MyWebCareer service, I also had a chance to chat to one of the co-founders, Nip Zalavadia. Nip filled me in on how the business was started and on the idea of “footprints”. It’s an intriguing story…

Nip and the co-founders come from a very different world. They have “experience in developing mission critical solutions for US Federal Law Enforcement, Intelligence, and Forensics clients.”. Nip pointed out: “Our expertise comes from one of the very few areas where Government practices are far in advance of the private sector. Footprints are the low level traces that people leave behind – and in our former employment used to help us find criminals.” The premise of MyWebCareer is that they can work for YOU to help understand the “footprint” you leave when you are on-line – and what future employers might find out about you.

To use the service, you grant MyWebCareer access to your social media acccounts (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) – and to supplement this they analyse other public data from places like Stack Overflow (particularly relevant to programmers) and trawling the “Deep Web”.

It all sounds rather sinister – and when I looked through their review of “My Score Guidance”, some of the observations were quite “spooky”. The information collated was surprisingly thorough – and their conclusions on the ball. It reminded me of the very popular YouTube video on privacy issues – and in particular ordering a pizza in the future.

Nip’s seen the video – but he and the team at MyWebCareer approach this area in a very positive way. For them it’s not about getting people frightened about what’s on-line, it’s about working on the side of his customers to help them understand how a current (or future) employer might view them.

I logged on to the service – and tested it out. The linking to each of the social media networks was very smooth – and the “Dashboard” produced was pretty informative.

MyWebCareer produces an innovative scoring method – with a benchmark and grading for different key areas. Nip explained to me that “this number is produced using sophisticated link analysis, visualization, entity extraction and semantics. In the US the number produced would be a very a familiar scoring method to anyone who tracked their credit ratings – a number called an FICO.” For those not in the US, including me, FICO is short for the Fair Isaac Corporation – a public company that provides credit scoring.

The company has a nice line from one of their Twitter fans “If @Klout and @LinkedIn had a baby, his name would be a new #Startup called @MyWebCareer.” It’s a cool description – and not far off the mark.

The really good things about the service – and is uncommon in many start-ups – is that they’ve thought through the next steps. If you’ve followed the stories here and elsewhere on LinkedIn InMaps launch – there have been many comments along the lines of “that looks great – but what does it mean? What should I do with it?”. Well MyWebCareer is ready with the next steps and answers to your questions. After it has created your score, you can then get a comprehensive breakdown of how the score was collated – and most importantly what you can do to improve it.

I’d encourage you to give MyWebCareer a try. I reckon that it took 30 minutes for me to grant access to services and review the findings. Time well spent – it certainly gave me some pointers. This Beta version is free – and the pro version will be on its way with more gizmos (and a moderate price tag soon). If you are serious about your Personal Brand – this is an important first step in looking at your Personal Network and understanding what impression you are making.

End of Part One – I’ll be back tomorrow to review Connected and then discuss how these services cross-over and compliment. If you need a reminder to pop back – do subscribe to RSS or Email newsletter on the top right (or follow me on Twitter @personalnetwork)

The Secret History of Social Networking

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m not wanting my blog to become a review of the BBC’s output – but they are creating some terrific programming around networks. The latest find is a BCC Radio 4 report called “The Secret History of Social Networking”.

In the aftermath of the success of the movie, “Social Network”, BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones has traveled the globe to interview many of the “actors” who helped to create the Social Network phenomena. Interestingly, this story starts 37 years ago with “Community Memory” in Berkeley, California.

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The series is in 3 parts – the first was broadcast last week, and I tuned in to the podcast of it last night. It’s a good listen – and I think will become even more interesting as it races towards the modern day take-off of Social Media.

During the series there are contributions from Twitter’s Biz Stone, Path’s Dave Morin, Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley, Facebook’s Chris Cox, the WELL co-founder Stewart Brand and writers Howard Rheingold and Julia Angwin. There’s a nice preview video interview with quite a few of these contributors on the main BBC webpage.

In the UK you can “Listen Again” with iPlayer. It seems that those outside the UK can also get access by subscribing to the Podcast.

Dark Side of the Moon

December 28, 2010 5 comments

Sorry for the unusually long gap in blog posts. I have two excuses – firstly, I’ve become a bit of an obsessive twitter user … and secondly, I had a bad dose of “Man Flu”! During my convalescence, I did manage to catch a really good Sky Arts documentary on Pink Floyd’s creation of Dark Side of the Moon. For those who are not 70s music aficionados – here is the programme summary:-

Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” Classic Album is the creative story behind the masterpiece: “Dark Side Of The Moon”. “Dark Side Of The Moon” transformed Pink Floyd from art house favorites to global, stadium superstars. With the timeless qualities of its production and musicality, allied to the hypnotic evocation of its central themes – alienation, paranoia, madness, war and death, “Dark Side Of The Moon” would become the album that would

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dominate the 70’s and 80’s (with a record number of 741 consecutive weeks in the Billboard 200).

The reason I mention this was that I found it fascinating how a group of individuals could come together to produce something so brilliant. The programme showed that it was not just the brilliance of the 4 band members – it was the whole network of people around them. The documentary interviewed the band and explained the parts played by many others in producing this level of excellence. People like Alan Parsons (the producer), Storm Thorgerson (sleeve designer), Clare Torry (haunting female vocals), etc. Some of the cool quotes that intersperse the tracks were provided by roadies, doormen, etc – it was a real team effort.

Three things struck me – and felt very relevant to my thinking as I try to create a new start up business, VizWho:-

* You can get the core members of the team right – but to produce something special – all the team need to come together
* It’s so much easier to achieve this when you are young. Maybe it’s the lack of commitments – coupled with youthful enthusiasm. (Do I sound like an old git?!)
* Finally, once successful – is this possible to replicate? It was interesting seeing the ageing band members still playing their instruments brilliantly … but it’s unlikely they will every create another “Dark Side of the Moon”!

At the same time, through my twitter following I’ve found some terrific blog posts. One was particularly relevant to this last point – by Ben Horowitz (he’s a very serious person who cofounded, along with Marc Andreessen, the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz). The post that took my eye was how he “reluctantly funded” a new venture created by a successful entrepreneur. Ben’s take was:-

…one general rule of mine is don’t hire or fund rich people. The reason? Building a technology company is hard. It’s really frackin’ hard. Many of the tasks that you do when building one are no fun. When things go wrong as they always do, it’s no fun at all. Rich people tend to like to work on things that they enjoy, because if they don’t enjoy it, well, they are already rich. When the going gets tough, the rich get going . . . to their vacation homes and their yachts.

Luckily, Ben did decide to back this venture. I’m currently thinking that having been successful and not being young anymore is really pushing against me building a successful start up!

Maybe I need to just dip back into music history a little further … Frank Sinatra did sing “The Best is Yet to Come”…

Twittering and a Dunbar discovery

November 23, 2010 4 comments

Well – I’ve finally done it! I’m on twitter… I’ve got to bolt the doors to the house tonight – because about 6 months ago I did tell a couple of friends that “If I ever start twittering – please shoot me!”. It’s part of my research – so finally, I’ve taken the plunge.

If you want to find me – I am apparently @personalnetwork. Once I can understand what’s going on – I will start to twitter. It’s quite daunting.

My conversion was down to a comment on my last post (made on a private LinkedIn Group where my blog is re-broadcast). The commenter made a good case

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for twitter being a great tool to reach an audience. Well, I’m ready for more than 20 hits on this blog a day (I once had over 50, you know) – so I thought I’d give it a try.

Call it beginners luck, but just found a wonderful tweet from a slightly scary looking tweeter called Howard Rheingold.

Key point of his twitter was “For boys, relationships R strengthened by doing things together; 4 girls, by talking.” Even better than that, his source lead to an excellent video of a lecture by Robin Dunbar (yes, you know Dunbar’s Number) at Oxford University.

There are some real nuggets in his lecture. Things like “Big Brains = Big Social Networks” – and I always thought getting lots of connections in LinkedIn was willy wanging! I’m off to get more friends (to compliment my new twitter account) – and prove I do have a HUGE brain.

Robin Dunbar is excellent in the video – makes me wish I’d had a University education. He uses simple slides to explain his theory, maintains that even with lots of maintenance those weak ties will drop away to his 150 – and is humble enough to tell us that Aristotle and Plato got these numbers right well before he did.

He continues to justify his 150 in simple form. He shows a bar chart analysis of the average number of people we send Christmas Cards to, cites military units and tells us that even Facebook recently analysed their network and the average friends per user was 120-130 (very near).

I like his style. Explaining a complex, well research subject in a fun way. He’s happy to intersperse his serious research with a bit of fun. He analysed that boys spend on average 7.3 seconds on a phone call, whereas girls spend massive amounts of time on the phone!! I like amusing academics….

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