Having played with several online social networking applications, I've decided Spoke is the one for me. It's business-strength, privacy-protecting, and it supplements your address book with information from the web. Plus, it's geared to business networking. Designed for sales people who protect their contact information with their lives, Spoke is not going to out you or your network.

When I first looked at Ryze, LinkedIn, Spoke, and some others, they all seemed about the same. After you load them up with contacts and start receiving requests to link, you begin to notice different features. Spoke is more protective of who's linked to who and also more proactive in grabbing related information from the net. In my admittedly small sample, I also sense a different sort of folks, Spoke being the more corporate crowd.

As I gear up for this, I'll leave a few best practices breadcrumbs for those who join the fun.

  • Unless you're a social networking software junkie, you're going to be better off if you pick one application rather than join them all. I'm already starting to live on Spoke when interacting with new people. It's becoming my poor-man's CRM.
  • Upload a photo. Profiles with photographs are warmer than the all-text versions. Photos make an impression. They're a necessary step in getting to know someone, and that's what this is all about. I wish Spoke provided a few more places where members could upload photos and such; pointers will have to suffice for now.
  • Similarly, if you want people to know something about you, don't leave "Professional Experience" and "Interests" blank. This is not like an old-fashioned resume (where the interviewers used to look for periods of unemployment). List what you feel like listing. And no more.
  • Populate your "Inner Circle" with the sort of friends that Malcom Gladwell calls connectors.
  • Go for diversity. Take advantage of the strength of weak ties.
  • Ease into things. The old adage "You only get one chance to make a first impression" applies. Don't invite the world to see your beta home page on one of these sites.

More to come. Probably. I'm just a learner here myself.

Posted by Jay Cross at April 11, 2004 12:17 PM | TrackBack

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