Social Networking Acceptance Rate Stats

From Jason Dowdell (via Claire Delong of Accolo): Konstantin Guericke of LinkedIn writes:

There are two types of acceptance rates…

1.) Those from invitations
2.) Those from introductions.

Invitations to connect are generally from people you know and trust already, like former co-workers, classmates, etc.. By accepting an invitation, you agree to make introductions for the person when he/she wants to meet people you or your contacts know. Of the people who send over 10 invitiations, 7% have an acceptance rate of 90% or higher. These kinds of conversion rates are unthinkable in traditional marketing, but only possible via word-of-mouth marketing where there are well-established relationships and bonds of trust.

Introductions are contact requests from people you generally don’t know and who are contacting you about doing business via an introduction from someone you know. When accepting a contact request, you are providing your contact information, so you can start a dialog about the opportunity via phone or email. When people receive an introduction, they accept it (meaning they provide their contact info to the sender) 84% of the time. This is quite amazing given that they generally don’t know the sender, and it’s a testament to the fact that business users realy heavily on social filters — they are much more willing to give their attention and respond favorably to someone who comes introduced (even if the sender is just a friend of a friend of their connection) than if they get contacted directly via phone or email where nobody is vouching for the sender and where they can’t easily look up the profile of the sender. It also shows that most users are careful which people they let into their LinkedIn network and that they give signficant weight to the fact that one of their LinkedIn connections is recommending the sender, based on their direct knowledge of the sender or based on the recommendation provided about the sender by someone they know and trust.

What comparable data can other services provide? Any ideas?

Choosing the Right Tool for Selling and Building Relationships Online

One of the questions David and I are frequently asked, and that comes up as a recurring topic of debate, is, “Which online tool is best for me to meet and sell to the right people?” In our latest Fast Company column, Of Hammers, Wrenches, and Screwdrivers, we take a side-by-side look at online networking communities, blogging, and LinkedIn, and compare and contrast them based upon the Seven Keys framework we introduced in The Virtual Handshake.

While the boundaries between the application of these tools is somewhat fuzzy and they tend to cross over each other, this is a handy, concise overview of the predominant models and how they relate to each other and to your activities.

David Teten notes that Professor Constance Porter wrote more on this topic at Centrality Journal. See Blogs, Social Networking Sites or Virtual Communities: Alternative Paths to Building Relational Equity with Customers (Part 2)

Social Networking Platforms: From Friendster to Myspace and Beyond

Last year, our ex-employee A.J. Al-Fayez introduced me to two current Harvard MBA students, Matthew Chun and David Morland. Matthew and David are both former engineers and management consultants, with an interest in internet and technology businesses. As a part of John Wells’ class entitled “Strategic Agility: Competing On The Edge,” they wrote a strategic analysis of social networking companies, with a focus on why MySpace overtook Friendster. This article is must-reading for anyone interested in building a successful online community, but particularly the folks at MySpace. It’s very easy to lose buzz and excitement in an online community, just as today’s hot bar can be tomorrow’s hangout for geeks. MySpace has no guarantee that it will retain its current audience in the future, something Friendster knows all too well.

Social Networking Platforms: From Friendster to Myspace and Beyond

Anne Berkowitch, cofounder and CEO, SelectMinds

Anne Berkowitch, cofounder and CEO, SelectMinds
from today’s Virtual Handshake conference.

You can download the slides from this presentation here: SelectMinds

New employment realities are weakening employee relationships: high turnover, outsourcing, telecommuting, etc.

4 types of networks: extended enterprise networks, corporate alumni networks, and intra-company networks

Corporate Social Networking is becoming best practice. SelectMinds has 45 clients: top investment banks, 2 of the Big 4 accounting firms, Accenture, IBM, premier law firms

Fortune 500 knowledge-worker companies: tech, defense, health care.

Offer:
– deployment and management of technical platform
– advisory and execution services (member participation analysis, broadcast communications, surveys, reporting)

Client successes:
Cooley Godward (law). 1 new client/ 3 active leads within 6 mos. Of launch. Highly targeted prof’l events for alumni & employees
E&Y: 25% of hires now rehires(!)
BearingPoint: employee-submitted operational improvement suggestions
Collaborative idea generation across enterprise network

Some of their clients invite ‘friends of a firm’ on a select basis to join the network

Variation of network across firms: Goldman Sachs alumni network is extremely active.
Some other clients do not have a strong alumni culture. Lower levels of engagement.
People like the fact that this is a closed network.
People use this primarily for business.

I can login and see what which other employees have RSVPd for a given alumni event—and can see which alums in my personal network specifically are attending.

MediaBistro and GoBigNetwork CEOs on Online Social Networks

and more from today’s conference.

– Laurel Touby, CEO, MediaBistro

Journalist by training.
Was Managing Editor , working from home.
1993: started media cocktail party in E. Village. No thought of a business model.
We called it a salon to make it high-minded.
She wore her bio and forcibly introduced people to one another.
It all started in a little tiny party. Every time I heard what customer wanted, I added it. At first, I had no money and no business experience.
Grew into email newsletter because people told her she was spending too much $ on postcards.
1997: Then community told her she needed a website
Overnight, people started flooding her site with user-generated content.
Became full-fledged online community.
She didn’t think of it as a business, until she saw Monster/HotJobs, and realized she probably should start charging for job listings. (she was earning $20,000)
She told community: pay me if you’re happy with results from advertising for jobs on my site.
So in April 99, she got 8 checks for $100.
So then she stopped writing and started writing a business plan. She got funding, staff. Moved out of bedroom.
Started figuring out how to be CEO.
Next added classes & seminars , during post-dot-com bust.
Next, membership and subscriptions.
Will soon be adding a social network. She’s not an expert yet.

Wil Schroter, CEO, Swaplease, and Gobignetwork (3mos. Old).

swaplease is $1B market place for auto leases.
He used to have parties for entrepreneurial community.
Highly disconnected community
Wanted to have easy way to route requests to right destination.
Only 3000 companies so far on the site

Teten: I asked how do they keep the ‘haves’ in the system?

Gobig is designed to solve problems for people, who are willing to pay for a solution to their prob. They don’t serve the MLM people (too small) and the top VCs (Sequoia). Few people want to meet the MLM people, and the top VCs have no problem getting deal flow. It’s the people in between whom Gobig serves.

On MediaBistro invites, they say: no students, no freelancers, no interns.

Moderator Bartlett: Who are the successful online networks?

Touby: Myspace, Flickr.
Schroter: social networking is a platform, not a business.

Schroter: TheFacebook is a great dating tool; that’s the problem it solves.

Teten: Amazon and ebay are highly successful social network sites.
Schroter: When building swaplease, schroter looked for a highly disconnected community where the internet could bring together people who could not otherwise be together.

Who will fail?

Schroter: Friendster. Not well defined.

Michael Wing, IBM, on Corporate Blogging and Jamming

more from today’s conference:

Michael Wing, IBM

You can download the slides from this presentation here: Michael Wing

They call it ‘Web 2.0’ because this all feels very déjà vu (circa 1995). Something major is happening.

We don’t know yet what is a ‘good blogger’.

Clay Shirky: We’re at the beginning of major change in how people act/communicate.

Huge empowerment underway.

Fulfilling the original promise of the Web

Syndication + XML=new global information commons. Blog content is contextualized via XML. Any data can be syndicated, whether or not created by human.

IBM now runs a number of blogs: the Mainframe blog, the Automotive blog, etc. IBM is now perceived as ‘we get it’, along with MSFT and Sun.

“WorldJam”: online discussion around certain key issues. 72 hours, 52,595 participants (unique users), 6,000+ ideas, 268,000+ views of posted ideas. Extremely positive feedback.

When they first launched WorldJam, they didn’t tell certain people until was too late, in order to make sure it didn’t get stopped.

On every forum, some people posted “Give back the money, Lou—let’s unionize IBM”. IBM kept that information up, somewhat to peoples’ shock.

ConsultantJam—to discuss PWC acquisition. 8,560 participants. Michael Wing is the champion of this within IBM.

Introduced Jamalyzer (real-time text-mining and theme analysis)

A jam is not :
– an announcement vehicle
– top-down
– community creator/definer: it’s a population, not a community
– personal soapbox
– a chat room.

Important: no one is anonymous.

A jam is:
– best-practice capture
– global collaboration
-democratic
-pragmatic
-organizational research
– an event

On very pragmatic topics (“It’s not just selling to the CIO anymore”), the threads read like project team meetings.

Jams are organizational interventions—short events. Blogs are ongoing digital identity.

Two epiphanies :
1) The intranet can transform the relationship between employees and the company.
2) Scale makes it more likely, not less, that you’ll get concreate results. It gets you past silos, into culture. Trustworthy because everyone is invited. It’s like a general election.

Research aids: eClassified, JamAlyzer (visual means to find people of like mind), and SurfAid (real-time metrics on usage & demographics).

ValuesJam= in-depth exploration of IBM’s values and beliefs. Set of new core values defined by IBM’s workforce (210,000 downloads, 1.25m views to site, 22,007 unique users, 9,337 posts/replies).

Put all of IBM’s Lines of Business, and individual countries, into a matrix. Each is a P&L which needs to be closed every day.

Half of IBMers had been there <5 years. Important for the vets and the newbies to see one another online. HBR article “Leading change when business is good.”

Followup to Culture Jam was WorldJam. goal to identify actionable ideas. They only rated the ideas AFTER the jam happened, in order to avoid what James Surowiecki of “Wisdom of Crowds” calls “information cascades”.

Now, today, IBM is doing its first external jam, “Habitat Jam“, jointly with World Urban Forum/Gov’t of Canada/IBM. Jammes from 175 countries. Outreach events for slum-dwellers. Goal: eradicate world’s slums.

Jams are all in English.

Intelliseek CEO asks: What are your concerns about blogs as a platform? Blogger/Typepad keep offering new functionality.

We need to be able to hear this. 5000 people in a stadium is a cacophony; with this technology you can HEAR the voice of the people.

Hear the stuff we didn’t know to ask about.

Marketing Yourself on MySpace

I have to confess to giving MySpace a bit of a short shrift at first, at least for business networking purposes. There’s no question that it has been phenomenally successful, but it has also been the subject of much controversy, thanks to its R-rated language and safety concerns (14 is the minimum age for membership). MySpace is the place to be if you’re in the music industry or the porn business, but is that really conducive to other business networking?

Well, it may not be the place to meet Fortune 500 executives or founders of funded Silicon Valley startups, but that doesn’t mean there’s not business going on there. Major brands like Panasonic, Nike and the new Harry Potter movie are not only doing display ads but setting up profile pages. But there are also a ton of small business owners, freelancers and work-at-home solopreneurs there marketing their products and services and finding strategic partners.

One such person is Stephen Ralph (UPDATE: Stephen moved to a new profile, link updated 8/12/06), a webpreneur whose businesses include Top Affiliate Program Directory and B2BSearch.org. He also runs the Affiliate Marketing Group on MySpace. Stephen has had great success marketing his businesses on MySpace and recently offered some tips on his forum regarding how to market yourself on MySpace (reprinted with permission):

There is no question that utilizing this mega networking portal can significantly increase your exposure. Myspace has roughly 40 million users worldwide and is growing at an exponential rate. Although it’s not the perfect advertising and marketing medium it offers an exceptional platform for you to be heard and get noticed.

Myspace provides you all of the necessary tools to market yourself or your business in a nice clean package. With all of the tools provided by myspace it’s even possible to conduct an Online Business solely from your profile (definitely not recommended though). Whether you are a model, plumber, online marketer, etc. your business and exposure can significantly increase by exploiting myspace for all of its potential.

Blogging:

The most important feature of your myspace account is your blog. Blogging has taken the web by storm these last few years and has become the “next big thing” in terms of Online Marketing. If you haven’t started utilizing your blog on myspace to market your business START TODAY. Quite simply, blogging allows you to share your expertise and knowledge with a larger audience.

Syndicating Your Blog Content:

If you’ve already started to blog, you probably noticed a link at the top of your blog page labeled “RSS”. This is essentially your money button. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is written in Extensible Markup Language or XML. So what does it do? RSS feeds allow your blog subscribers to review your latest news without even being on your website or myspace page. Your subscribers can view your latest blog posts via web-based or desktop RSS aggregators such as SharpReader, Rocket RSS Reader or FeedReader to name a few.

Once you’ve started your blog you need to get your blogs RSS feeds into the major Search Engines and RSS/Blog Directories. The very first thing you should do is get yourself a free My Yahoo! and MSN Passport account. Once these accounts are set up you can add your RSS feeds directly to your profile. Doing this enables Yahoo! and MSN to spider (or search) your site. This is a known way to rapidly get your website indexed by the search engines.

Now that you’ve loaded your RSS feeds into the search engines you need to spend some time adding your feeds to the top RSS & Blog Directories on the web. A current listing of the top RSS & Blog directories can be found here. If you’re like me…lazy…you may want to utilize the following RSS submission service provided by Global Syndication, L.L.C. I have used Josiah’s RSS submission services in the past and will likely use them again since it only costs a paltry $9.95 per RSS feed and the service is excellent.

Ringing the Dinner Bell:

It’s important to stand up on your soap box and let the world know every time you post a new article on your blog. How do you do this?….By pinging the RSS directories and repositories. Sending out a ping is like raising the red flag on the mailbox to tell the mailman you have new mail to be sent. In this case, you are telling the RSS directories and Blog tracking sites that your site has been updated. I primarily use two sites for pinging the RSS and Blog Directories: Pingoat and PingOMatic. (The latter has been pretty buggy lately though.) Make sure you ping only after you add fresh content to your blog.

Tips Before You Write a Post:

Good Information – Offer your viewers quality content information and they will come back again and again. People primarily get online for what…. information! So give it to them. If you provide a product or service give your blog subscribers some inside knowledge they can use and they’ll love you for it.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Before you get carried away writing your articles you need to do some research on what people are actually looking for within your niche or area of expertise. Before I write an article I check http://inventory.overture.com to see what the general populace is looking for within my niche. This free service will show you how many people are looking for a particular keyword during the past month. There are other great services available but I’m using this one as an example for brevities sake.

Adding A Resource Block – This is where it gets good. No doubt some of you are exceptional writers and others will want to republish your masterpiece. LET THEM! This will only increase your backend traffic to your personal/business web site, your myspace page or your brick and mortar business. People are always looking for good quality information to display on their site. It’s a win-win situation because they get free content and your business and services get more exposure through syndication. You’ll also gain credibility within your respective field as a trusted professional or expert. Here’s an example of what a resource block looks like:

    About the Author:

    Stephen Ralph is the owner and operator of the Top Affiliate Program Directory. Top Affiliate provides free internet advertising for affiliates and affiliate program managers promoting one and two-tier affiliate programs. (You can add your business address, phone .. etc. as well here depending on what type of business you operate. If you don’t have your own website yet be sure to put your myspace profile URL and blog URL in here.)

* Be sure to submit your award winning article(s) to article directories as well such as EzineArticles.

I hope this information proves useful to you and your business. Check back with me soon for more Online Marketing updates or grab my RSS feed from my myspace blog or site blog. I wish you all much success in your business and personal endeavors. Laters!

These are excellent tips, but I replied with a couple more of my own:

Build Your Brand – Much of the appeal of MySpace compared to other social networking site is the (almost) complete customizability of your home page. Whether you’re talking about creating a personal brand or a business brand, your MySpace profile should reinforce your brand – the name of your company, the visual identity and style, etc. Want to see some great examples? Check out some of the Featured Profiles on www.MySpace.com (can’t just click on Home once you’ve logged in).

Create Value First – Just linking to your offsite stuff stinks like wet sneakers. It’s transparent, it’s lame, and most importantly, it generally just doesn’t work very well. Create value first. Tell people something useful and actionable. Answer a question. Create value. Then within that context, you can link to your other stuff. Case in point… Stephen’s article above. Imagine how lame it would have been for him to just go on the forum and say “Come check out the Top Affiliate Program Directory and you too can make tons of money through affiliate programs.” Would you have clicked? I doubt it. But once you read what he wrote, saw that he knew what he was talking about, and that he was willing to create value for you first, didn’t that make you a lot more inclined to click through to learn more about his business? Great example — follow it.

And as far as using MySpace for business networking? Well, I can’t say that I recommend it for everybody, but if you’re selling products or services that appeal to a young audience into pop culture, it’s definitely the place to be online.

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Update: how to find a kidney donor on craigslist

Back in November 2004, I wrote what turned out to be one of the highest-traffic posts on this blog, “Can the blogosphere find a kidney donor?“. I had met a woman, Debbie Diamond, who was looking for a kidney on behalf of her brother, Neil.

Here’s the update directly from Debbie:

“This story has a lot of twist and turns. I cannot believe this and I am still pinching myself! I came to Craig’s List in search of a kidney donor for my brother. I placed ongoing ads for several months and got plenty of replies. Several people went ahead and took the various tests. Though two were matches nothing came to fruition for my brother. But, I am happy to say that my brother did get his transplant, from a source outside of Craig’s List 3 months ago and all is well.

While I was determined to save my brother’s life and find him a kidney donor, I was also helping another person find a donor for herself. Let me go back a few steps to show how much of a Craig’s List story this really is. Ten months ago there was an ad on CL seeking people to work at a great event in NYC. I applied and was hired by the two people conducting the interviews. This man and woman who did the hiring have been good friends for many years. They recognized me from the newspaper regarding my kidney search for my brother. They started to tell me about a friend of theirs who was on dialysis and in dire need of a transplant too. I initiated conversation with this woman via email first. After several emails we spoke on the phone at length. We then met in person, and once acquainted I realized that she did not have many resources on how to go about networking, etc. I told her to post an ad on CL which she did. She called me and said she did not get any replies and asked if I would post ads for her, which I did. While this is going on I am still working hard on finding my brother a match. Keep in mind that when someone goes for testing to see if they are a match, the hospital/transplant center will only see one person at a time. The tests are plenty, time consuming and some are not the most pleasant. So you cannot bombard the hospital with a bunch of people at once. Since I had received so many replies to my ad for my brother, I could not answer all of them at one time. I had to wait to see the outcome of the person being tested prior to scheduling the next individual. I had an email in my inbox from a woman in California. I had not answered her right away as we were waiting for another’s results. Finally, instead of answering her email I decided to forward it to the woman I was trying to help here in NY. The two women were also the same blood type. The women had been in touch and I have been emailing back and forth with the woman from California for several months too. It is now November. This has been in the making for about 5 or 6 months now. Like I said, it is not as easy as a quick test here and there… there are glitches, problems, set backs, re-doing of tests, etc. As I sit here and type this these two women are in a hospital in California; transplant complete!

The truth is that the chances of finding a stranger who is a match for a kidney transplant are slim to none. That is why they always tell you if a family member is a match (usually some family member would be) and can donate, that is the best case scenario. Having said that, it is equally difficult to find someone who does not drop out after starting testing, way before they know if they are a match or not. There are so many reasons that people drop out, and to hang in there with every trial and tribulation, and to take the last step and actually donate your organ, is a deed so great that words cannot even describe.

Most people thought I was crazy to post ads on Craig’s List seeking a donor. They also thought nothing would come through via this medium either. I am so glad I ignored all the doubt and negativity. Imagine if I hadn’t!? Anything can happen, and if nothing happened then we lost nothing, we just remained in the same place. If there is a moral to this, or actually several morals to this story they would be: Follow YOUR gut and not anyone else. The Two Women had The Transplant Too! If you get turned down a thousand times, if nothing happens for a year or more, don’t give up. Keep the focus and keep putting yourself or whatever it is out there. Eventually something will give. Even if it is just more information you never know where it will take you. I certainly did not. I found out though and I am glad I did. Nothing is too out there or to ridiculous for you not to give it a try. The other part of this is how great Craig Newmark and his site is. Craig’s vision did not include this (organ donations) at all. When he started he had no idea his site would become what it had become and that it would spread like wild fire all over the place. I have thanked him personally and have shared emails with Craig, always keeping him up to date regarding these two situations.

Again, thanks to all who were there and supportive, especially Craig and his site. Thank god my brother has a functioning kidney, is off of dialysis and leading a much more normal life because of it. And now a second person was spared more years of dialysis and getting sicker. Last but certainly not least, thanks to the woman in California, the Angel that was sent anonymously to my email inbox. Angels like her are a dying breed today which is sad but I am so grateful I found her!

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Visual Map of the Social Networking Landscape

Dave Pollard has put together an excellent visual map of the social networking landscape. He breaks it down into eight major objectives people are trying to accomplish with social networking tools:

  1. Finding people (discovering, rediscovering, or locating them)
  2. Building directories, network maps and social networks
  3. Inviting people to join your networks
  4. Managing access to your networks (“permissioning”)
  5. Connecting with people in your networks (using various media)
  6. Managing relationships across media (e.g. making the jarring transition from e-mail or weblog-based relationships to voice-to-voice or face-to-face)
  7. Collaborating with people in your networks, and
  8. Content sharing with people in your networks (and other learning, knowledge-finding and knowledge-sharing functionalities that are arguably the domain of Knowledge Management rather than Social Networking)

Of course, most sites offer some combination of these and don’t easily fall into a single category. He goes on to look at the combination of these that the major types of tools and some of the most popular sites provide, plus his list of the ten biggest problems with most existing social software tools. Great reading.

If you’re looking for categorized lists of social networking sites, he mentions Judith Meskill’s excellent SNA Meta List, but unfortunately overlooks our Directory of Online Network / Social Software Companies, which is wiki-based and allows contributions and edits by anyone who’s interested in helping us keep it up-to-date.

MySpace Launches Record Label Amid Growing Controversy, Membership

MySpace is all over the news this week, most notably for launching the MySpace record label, which “will feature independent and unsigned artists as well as compilations that include top groups from other label.”

On the darker side, MySpace has been at the center of attention in the growing concern over internet privacy and safety. For example, in a highly controversial move, a private Catholic high school has issued a ban on blogging and online profiles, threatening students with suspension if they maintain profiles and blogs on sites like MySpace and Xanga.

Meanwhile, MySpace has surpassed AOL, Hotmail and even Google to become the #4 most-visited domain in terms of page views and is approaching 40 million members.