Recently I’ve been diving into social networks with an interest in automation.  Don’t get me wrong, I get a good deal of business from LinkedIN, but I worry about it’s future.

I have to thank Dave Mendoza and Jason Davis as being great examples of leveraging networks.  I’ve used LinkedIn from early days, but only recently have I started adding connections en mass.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been adding 1000+ LinkedIN connections per week.  Ok, I do have an unfair advantage.  Not only do I have Broadlook’s recruiting software tools, but I have all the fun stuff coming out of Broadlook’s skunkworks.   Profiler 4 is close.  nuff said.

Adding 1000 connections per week does take time and resources.  So I find myself building value in my LinkedIN account.   I am invested in LinkedIN.   One questions is:  What do I do with the invites I am getting to all these new social networks?   I’m getting so many, it’s getting ugly.  Right now, I use LinkedIN and RecruitingBlogs.com.  Any more than that and I would be spending my day inviting people and accepting invitations.   I prefer to have a life.

There are two concepts to track here.

(1)  A social network like LinkedIN was created to leverage a chain of trusted relationships in order to get to a target contact.   In reality, open networkers, such as myself have ruined that level of trust.  I fully admit it.  For me, I only need a person’s name and I can take it from there.  So now it’s all about getting numbers. Most members of the recruiting industry don’t care to get connected via social network speeds.  Social networks are sloth like to a type-A, impatient recruiter…like me.  Therefore, open networking was born. Combine a tool like LinkedIN with Broadlook’s Profiler tool and you can get to the people you are looking for… fast.

(2) Once you start adding every open networker under the sun into your network, there is NO WAY you can give every one of them a vote of confidence.  Without confidence, I personally, am not going to put my reputation behind someone I don’t know well.  To make matters worse, I am getting connection requests from people I don’t know to people I know very well.  Guess what?  Again, I am not going to forward most of these requests because they are not appropriate.

Where does this leave us?   I say “us” because I am looking for help & feedback from the community

I have a solution.   LinkedIN may not like it, but I think that it is inevitable.  Here it is.

At the last ERE conference, I was chatting with reps at the LinkedIN booth.  I told them about my 2 points.    The catch 22; you must make your LinkedIN network bigger in order for it to be better, but bigger ruins it.  Then I shared my solution to the problem and they really liked it.  Said they would pass it on… not sure if they did…So here it is.

Add a single setting to each LinkedIN connection.  I am talking about a single bit of information.  Very boolean for those techies out there.   Call this setting “inner circle”.

Think about it.  In real “social networks”  (not cyber ones),  you have your close circle of friends and then you have your acquaintances.  What are acquaintances but potential friends.

LinkedIN is too Boolean and it is time to grow up.  Cyber reality needs to mirror social reality.

Add a setting to differentiate friends from acquaintances.

What would this mean?  Open networkers could continue to add those aquaintances, but also have a sub group of their “inner circle”.   Best of both worlds.

I understand the purist idea Reid Hoffman had in creating the trusted social network, but reality has set in.  I’ll repeat.

Cyber reality needs to mirror social reality.  Social reality has been evolving for millions of years.  Lessons can be learned from it.

after thoughts

For me, I might have 20-25 people in my inner circle; people I would unconditionally pass on a recommendation for.  Why not automate the inner circle connections?   That would take care of the speed issue of using social networks.  Protection against abusing the automated, inner circle?  Limit the inner circle connections.   25 max and then a buck a month for more.  If I am getting charged for a connection