Friday, September 29, 2006

The Internet is not useful

... if you don't know what it is that you know which is valuable to another person.

You can have a gazillion connections on Linkedin, yet it's worth nothing if you don't know what valuable knowledge you have which can help another human being.

It's not the size of your network, it's the usefulness of your knowledge.

Linkedin users are predominantly male, and I think men tend to focus on numbers: "My network is bigger than yours, buddy!"

So many people invite me to connect with them, and mention the great number of connections they have. I care less about that than I do about whether they actually read my profile and took the time to mention, even briefly, how we can work together or collaborate in the future on projects based on our professional background, interests and values.

The secret of networking, which seems to have been lost in the technological wizardry of social networking software, is that you have to take the time to get to know another person -- individually.

It's the A.I.R.S. framework: effective networkers know that everybody wants to feel Appreciated, Important, Respected and Special.

Unfortunately, most invitations to connect do not meet the above standards. However, it is never too late to learn.

In short, the Internet (and Linkedin) is only useful if you know what knowledge you have which is valuable to another person. But you can only know that if you take the time to know the other person's situation, and can format or couch your knowledge in terms that the other person can understand and appreciate. Only then will he/she become a valuable long-term connection who can rely on you and vice versa.