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LinkedIn Networking Generates Some Hits; Thoughts on Facebook

A quick note about LinkedIn, the social networking site for business professionals; I've been a member / participant for over a year, but definitely not an aggressive link-seeker. For example, I am protective of my personal database of contacts - some of whom I am quite sure would not appreciate having their email address submitted for batch searches. (Yes, I know LinkedIn has have a privacy policy, but there is a wee Luddite thread in my psyche).

So I'm out there, but passive ... and yet, I've noticed an recent uptick in meatspace connection attempts; eMails and voice mails looking for networking conversations, vendors looking to connect, even job opportunities. For the time being, I'll suffer the vendor calls; I don't want to poison the LinkedIn karma just yet.

Related item: I recently visited a university with my daughter; at dinner with my nephew (a current student), I asked them both about Twitter (see also). They got me up to date on the importance of Facebook for connecting with their friends, the amount of control they have over the information, and the Twitter-like usefulness of posting who is doing what this weekend.

My previous opinions about Facebook were formed by this article, which lays out a Facebook vs. LinkedIn scenario as current heavy users graduate. There may be some merit to this argument, but I remember interviewing with Apple Computer years ago. The hiring manager was talking about the Apple strategy of putting Macs in the schools; all of those kids will graduate into business, and bring their preference for MacIntosh (learned in grade school) to their purchasing departments.

Hmmm - hindsight says that Windows-inertia proved a bit harder or Apple to break down, and I think the same might befall Facebook. But that's not necessarily a bad thing ... in this era of the Long Tail, why must networking tools be all things to all communities? Leave student life to Facebook, and let LinkedIn handle the professional networking crowd.

There's a fundamental difference between a network of folks looking for social connections, and one driven by the search for commerce.