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The Flaw in Social Climbing Networking Sites

There is an inherent logical flaw built into the concept of such business networking sites as LinkedIn. The typical person most likely to actively populate the service—to take the time to construct and fully maintain a profile—is the social/professional climber.

In other words, the most active members of professional networking sites are likely to be those not satisfied with their current places in the pecking order: climbers. Therefore, they are most likely to reach others of their ilk, rather than those they should be reaching: the people above them in the professional pecking order. While there may be some incentives for those who've reached the summit of their careers to participate in networking sites, none of them involve climbing. Such sites then risk becoming a flat social structure populated by a self-selecting group, none of whom are influential enough to form a chain to the summit.

I am not suggesting, however, that professional networking sites are pointless. Rather, you should consider this flat structure in how you use them. Build your strategy around it and use it to advantage. Flat networks benefit contractors and consultants, who use them as information conduits to find more work, better work, or new work. And in the current information- and service-based economy, it benefits all workers to think of themselves as consultants, even if they have full-time salaried positions.


Stephen said...

Momma always said the world needs ditch diggers too, who needs upward mobility...

Every social network has a point.

YouTube - Share videos and new experience you cant find on TV (or just watch people getting hit in the nuts)

MySpace - Finding people that have common interests (just ask DateLine NBC)

Napster - Free flowing music sharing (oh wait... they're terrorists according to someone)

FaceBook - see MySpace, but crappier

eBay - Getting access to products that you can't get at the local 5 & dime (where else can you find a velvet painting of Satan taking a poop (actual item, people))

The point is that people are so bored at work that they will do anything to occupy their time... except work...

How much easier is it to bitch about Gary's awful body odor to Sally in the next cubicle than it is to actually get that TPC report done and not bash your head into the wall from boredom?

Today's soceity is based on creating nothing. Remember when we used to build shit and have a sense of accomplishment? Now all we do is move paper and try to create wealth for other people.

Maybe the ditch diggers have it right... at least they're making something with their time... And if your not happy being a ditch digger, then just go to and commiserate with those that are unhappy.

Oh CRAP... I'm doing this while at work...

Did you find a typo yet?

librarian@play said...

Who else thinks Stephen needs a blog of his own? His folksy, aw-shucks tone would play well out there.

He both gets and misses the point. Today's society is about creating the most important thing of all: identity. It may not be as tangible or satisfying as a ditch or a building, but it's not nothing. People make millions off it every day. Just see the brief list of sites Stephen posted.

The difference between those sites and a site like LinkedIn is that they are mostly recreational or consumer-driven. That's their baldly stated purpose for existence. But LinkedIn gives at least the illusion of productivity.

While on LinkedIn, people can say: "I'm managing my career." Even if they are really just trying to avoid that TPC report.

Oh, and Stephen wasn't kidding about the Velvet Satan.