Rethinking Online Professional Networking

I recently had the chance to read through colleague Michael Pokocky’s essay on The Collaborative Concentric Networking Model and when I chatted with him about it, was pleased to have him say I could reproduce it here on my weblog for others to read. If you are involved with online networking at any level, I think you’ll find this a fascinating and thought-provoking read…
I have come to the conclusion, that in general, nobody really knows what networking really is. In fact it means different things to different people; and add to that, the multitude of current, and new networking communities available to choose from , and this is a recipe for disaster for both the individual and the community portals that are available to everyone.
People get stuck because they are overwhelmed by choices; choices introduced by trusted friends, which makes it even more chaotic, because at the end of the day, one finds themselves members of several virtual communities, and over the long term the truth comes out that most people are discouraged and this leads to the feeling that they are spending most of their time managing their networks instead of getting things done.


People are desperate to belong to something larger than themselves and willingly join network after network until the idea finally sets in that they really don’t want their lives to be so complicated.
The solution to eliminate the symptoms of Networking Syndrome is to re-evaluate one’s reasons for being part of a networking community if the first place.
People are so frustrated by the management of their networks that they become uninspired and lack any motivation to network in the first place; it becomes mechanical and lethargic instead of influential and creative.
Well, the reality is that it doesn’t have to be like this, and there is a better way: Collaborative Concentric Networking.
What I think you’ll find good about this is that it encourages multi-community networking for the purpose of building one’s own Collaborative Concentric Network, which is unique to the individual, and effective in building relationships between friends, colleagues, business associates, etc.
The purpose is to build one’s own center of influence while reducing the time wasted now by not using one’s communities effectively.
I mention the relatively obvious way in which it strikes one differently according to one’s interests, purpose, values, needs, desires, age, etc.
Collaborative Concentric Networking keeps the promise of maximizing one’s results with minimum investment in time; I’m not suggesting that if you are new to networking that the amount of time you’ll have to invest in building several networks will be minimal, but rather over time, the amount of time to get things done, will increase once you have your own Collaborative Concentric Network.
So the question becomes, “Where to begin?”
The following model works for beginners as well as veterans of networking.
I will use my own experience to demonstrate how to build a Collaborative Concentric Network with the following characteristics:

  • It’s easily manageable
  • Allows for overlapping between networks
  • Provides a steady stream of new friends, colleagues, business associates,etc.
  • Your connections are connected with you because of common interests
  • The ability to build a unique Collaborative Concentric Network while maintaining a connection to the networks to which you choose to belong
  • You’ll focus your energy on one networking site that will act as your main home for your Collaborative Concentric Network instead of trying to maintain all of your networks at the same time
  • It’s your choice as to which network will be your home base
  • The ability to build trusted friends over time that you will know intimately
  • The ability to interact with these friends on a deeper level because you know what they’re doing and what their needs and desires are
  • The ability to create dynamic relationships with people who actually know who you are
  • The Collaborative Concentric Network you build is actually a sub-set of the totality of all your connections on all networks combined.
  • You drive your own network and draw from the database of all your other networks to add to you own Collaborative Concentric Network.

The steps to building a Collaborative Concentric Network:

  • Join as many virtual communities as you desire
  • Create a profile that is consistent across all your networks
  • Provide links to all your networks and provide an invitation link as well
  • Build as large a network as you want
  • Select individuals whose profiles interest you.
  • Send an email inviting potential members for your own Collaborative Concentric Network to initiate a dialog where you will introduce yourself to each other.
  • Make sure you have chosen the virtual community that you want to build your Collaborative Concentric Network on, so that if the person you have initiated a conversation with strikes you as a person you want in your Collaborative Concentric Network, you will be able to invite them to it.
  • Make sure that the Collaborative Concentric Network is not used at all except for building your own Collaborative Concentric Network on. In essence this will become the homepage of your Collaborative Concentric Network where you will spend your time in “collaboration, discussion, communication, and other methods of communication so that over time you will know every member of your Collaborative Concentric Network.

The purpose of this white paper is to share with you the method of maximizing the value you’ll receive from your Collaborative Concentric Network while at the same time minimizing the amount of time you spend on useless activities that result in you feeling overwhelmed, confused, chaotic and tied done and never getting anything done.
Interesting alternative to the “stick with one network and eschew all the others” approach, isn’t it? If this has made your brain whir on the topic of how to manage and control your online professional network, then perhaps you’d also enjoy checking out Michael Pokocky’s Blog too. Thanks for letting me republish this too, Michael!

10 comments on “Rethinking Online Professional Networking

  1. eMarketer just put out a ‘Word of Mouth’ report. Here is a quote from the report:
    “The Internet has created a vast new social network of people,” says Geoff Ramsey, eMarketer CEO and author of the Word of Mouth Marketing report. “These online connections may be as profound as any offline relationship, such as
    members of health support groups, or they may be only fleeting, such as one consumer reading another’s recommendation of a hotel on a travel site. But whether the connection is long or
    short, the person-to-person information exchanged online carries a weight that traditional corporate messaging simply can’t match.”
    According to the Online Publishers Association, 10% of consumers who report seeing online video advertisements say they forward them on to a friend or family member � that means they were more often influencers than purchasers.
    When it comes down to it, people do business with people they like, and feel a connection with. When people are looking for a company to do business with, they also want to feel like that person has the expertise and know-how to do the job right. Blogging and video allow people to get to know each other, and to share their expertise, which lead to word of mouth referrals.

  2. I enjoyed your view of CCN and agree with your methods. At the same time there is already a technological movement about which will enable individuals to have their own customer personal network with interfaces and feeds coming from all sources. Subsequently this will user in what I am researching and writing about as The Relationship Economy and we will all be enbaled to create better gains from the use of our time

  3. If your such a “widely recognized as an expert on both technical and business issues,” why is your websites so frickin ugly?

  4. I agree with the author, this is the best way to deal with the current status of the social networking sphere.
    To move to the next step, action is required by people who develop social network. Considering that current commercial networks are not interested in real openess (they are afraid to lose their users base), the solution is an open source social network platform.
    I think it is time for an open source social network, based on a “hub” with users profiles and decentralized tools, such as blogs etc., which can be syndacated by RSS etc. A similar project is http://www.mypacis.com/ which promotes peace by linking people.
    There are issues to be addressed, of course. For example, how to balance openess with privacy. It is enough to allow users to set “disclosoure” values for blog posts. Also, users can be provideded multiple “sheets” for their profles: public, business, personal, etc. They can decide if they want to activate them all, or just one, and what to write in them. Information are disclosed depending on the status of the viewer (anynomous, logged in, friend, etc.). Same for APIs.

  5. I was wondering if anyone here has used or heard of konnects.com. The sites focuses on allowing business professionals to network each other. I’m a member and I love the site, it was easy to create a account and the site is user friendly. Konnects.com also has communities where people can join and focus towards specific areas of business. I just wanted to see if anyone else has seen the site.

  6. Another geat site for networking is http://www.fastpitchnetworking.com Its a social network for bussiness professionals. What makes this site different from some others out there is the ability to not only network but the site also has a ton of features that allow you to market yourself/your business onthe web. (Post Press releases, promote events, blogs, podcasts, videos, etc.) A must for any professional looking to ramp up their business/marketing efforts.

  7. I have to agree with Robert about Konnects. I am also a huge fan of the site. I am part of the several communities that they offer and I love the interface of the site. I also love the fact that they let you promote your business and expand your business contacts while keeping in contact with the ones you have made in the past.

  8. Thought provoking article Dave (thanks Michael). Really agree with the description of keeping networking focussed on what your own goals are as it’s so easy o hemorrhage off target into subjects, articles and networks that, while engaging and interesting, if not strictly disciplined from a time management point-of-view, can quickly spiral out to consume one’s every waking moment. “Keep your eye on the ball” I guess is what it comes down to. The issue is, thought, there needs to be a certain amount of flexibility built into every networking option so we can engage with some degree of sincerity and empathy with other people. No man is an island.

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