intel risks and benefits

Yesterday I was doing some online research to find some prospective speakers for a short leadership development series I’m organizing.  Since I had a name I wanted to do a little background check and went to linked IN.

When I logged in, the system not only encouraged me to build my network with suggestions of folks I might know, but there were messages in my inbox and a series of “network updates.”  The surprise was that one of my dearest and oldest friends,  who has built a very successful career as a coporate lawyer was listed as a network update.  Linked in was informing me she had signed up.  I was surprised that she was listed here as a network update, after all she wasn’t part of my linked in network. Rather than go to look at her profile…after all over 30 years, I think I know the profile pretty well, so I merely sent  an invite to connect.

I received a flabbergasted response.  How did I know she had signed up on linked in?  I explained that the social media sites all had intel that recognized and was making connections between folks I emailed or had in my email address books and those registering on their site.

I can see why lawyers and corporate attorneys might find this boundary crossing a little dangerous.  Linked in has recently upgraded various features, but this behind the scenes connection look up is a great convenience.  Certainly there are folks who find me on Facebook or on Linked In but I always reserve the right to decline their offer to connect or link or befriend.  The serendipity of finding a former friend, colleague or even long lost family member is a great benefit.  Prior to web 2.0, my ability to “find” someone with whom I had lost touch due to moves etc was like finding a needle in a haystack on google..no matter how distinctive their name.

For business, I find the tools to be a great bonus for being able to learn who is the proper connection in an organization.  Very few companies publish their corporate directory, or evenwhen they do the title may not be descriptive enough to discern their role.  Linked in allows people to voluntarily tell me what they do and how to find them.  Perhaps my friend in signing up didn’t know that Linked in would find her for me…but I would be surprised if I was the only one who had sent her a request to link.  In other words her very experience is now changing…what had been her perogative to share..her email or other basic information…is now being made available to others in a much broader ripple of dissemination.

Web 2.0 has changed the world of pushing information to one of pull.  I don’t have to search for things or people that I’ve already acknowledged through various web2.0 tools are of interest.  These intelligent spiders, as I assume the basic underlying technology or matching algorithm is that, pull out of the wide area net items of interest including connections to individuals I regularly correspond.  The rules of the game have changed and I’m happy with my new virtual colleagues at CSRA  to help you reap the benefits.

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