Sunday, July 19, 2009

Six, five, four, three, two degrees of separation, Blast off with LinkedIn

The concept of six degrees of separation, sometimes referred to as "the human web" has applied to human social engagement for many years. According to a new mobile provider; "in New Zealand everyone knows someone, who knows someone who knows them," making it two degrees of separation.

Let's take two reasonably topical subjects of late, swine flu and that massive $36 million lotto prize draw. A good friend of mine was UNLUCKY enough to be one of the first to catch the dreaded H1N1 after a trip to the States and another friend LUCKY enough to win big in the record breaking prize pool after a trip to the post shop. That's only one degree of separation so there really is something in this expanding circle of personal acquaintances theory.

This has to be good for business right? One of the most powerful tools for business growth is referral from established networks. In days of old (that's pre 90's before the World Wide Web) it was all down to word of mouth and exchanging of business cards at the local Chamber of Commerce function, the proverbial who's who of the old boys club.

Thanks to Social Media and the expansions of Web 2.0 communities that's all changed forever. The degree of separation between you and your next customer, associate or collaborator in business is closer than you may expect. Now, if only there was a way of managing your contacts and understanding their linkages, mutual acquaintances, spheres of influence and areas of interest. Mix this in with an orderly structure of discussions and a way of permission based communication and wouldn't that just be perfect?

You already know the answer - there is the perfect solution - it's easy to engage in, it's being used by millions of professionals worldwide with rave review, and best of all its free. It's called LinkedIn and can be found at

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site launched in May 2003 used predominantly for professional networking. It has more than 43 million registered users spanning 170 industries from 200 countries and territories around the world.

The purpose of LinkedIn is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business. The people in the list are called Connections. Users can invite anyone, whether a LinkedIn user or not, to become a connection. The site shows you what connections you have in common with other people and to what degree of separation you have with other users. You can use this information to seek introductions with mutually acquainted people and keep informed of introductions being made within your own circle of connections.

This "Facebook for Grown-ups" is feature rich with groups, discussion forums, jobs opportunities, collaborative initiatives and more. My only piece of advice is if you are in business then establish a profile now and start linking with people you do business with. Do not be concerned about the number of connections you have, focus instead on quality relationships and enjoy the networking potential and opportunity this product will reward you and your business with.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Do we have the right to switch off the machine?

A business acquaintance, Dr. Roy Davies asked the question on his blog recently, “Whether a machine that displays all the outward signs of life is actually alive and do we have the right to turn it off?”
I know Roy understands machines; as a computer scientist/engineer he has a deep understanding of human factors and usability issues which he has applied to numerous Virtual Reality and Internet applications.
This questions has been circulating the online world for a while now and it is a very thought provoking one. Just because a machine imitates life and develops an ability to learn and reason does that make a it alive? It's hard to enter this conversation without sounding like a conspiracy theorist but we also have to match this question with "when does the machine decide we are redundant or worse a threat?" If you really need to research this then there are plenty of science fiction themes (iRobot, Terminator, Transformers, Matrix) that explore this concept.
It’s not an outlandish claim with historic evidence such as Moore’s Law and the progress of technology that what we can imagine will be reality before long.
I would go as far as saying we need to make all machines with off switches as standard and be wary of anyone who argues otherwise.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Saving the Planet one meeting at a time.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a greenie but taking an interest in our environment and the impact carbon emissions and congestion has on our lives shouldn’t need a label. Just look at the effect school holidays has on travel times in Auckland. There seems to be half the traffic and getting around is considerably more effective and less stressful.

I am a realist so understand issues facing us all because of commuting necessity, but if we all did one thing a day that resulted in one less trip in the car the impact would be significant. With about 652,000 cars in Auckland alone that is a lot of fuel and emission that could be eliminated.

This blog is not entirely altruistic, it does so happen that our company has a way that can easily remedy that time consuming and costly travel time to meetings, training and presentations.

Our company, MondayMorning, uses emerging web based technologies (Web 2.0) to educate business people about more effective communications without the cost and environmental impact of travel. Cloud computing and Webinars are just two examples of tools we utilise that can not only reduce the carbon footprint of a business but significantly improve communication efficiencies, team collaboration and ultimately the culture of an organisation. Reducing costs, improving efficiencies and helping our environment has to be a win win.

Talk to us about joining one of our business training webinars, hosting your own or getting our help and advice in getting to grips with this technology.

And as a footnote this post was inspired by a website I was directed to on twitter this weekend. It’s a New Zealand social marketing campaign to create awareness about our carbon emission responsibilities called “Sign On”. Over 65,000 New Zealanders have already Signed On, from Lucy Lawless, Stephen Tindall and Cliff Curtis through to Rhys Darby and of course, me too... Take a look and if you think you would like to add your voice then do so here

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Social Media In Plain English

There are a lot of explanations about what Social Media is, and what isn't. In fact the growth of Social Media itself has enabled this to become one of the most popular and talked about topics of all time.

There is no real secret to using Social Media (beware of those selling them at "buy now" prices), it just comes down to what environment makes you comfortable, what tools we like to use and finding a "community", "tribe", "clan" or "gathering" that makes you welcome, safe and relevant. Once this has been achieved then you can engage, speak your mind, share your knowledge and learn from those who share in your passion, interests and opportunities.

Social Media has created a shift in the way we can conduct our business. The old outward marketing technique of broadcasting your message to the wind is no longer viable or affordable on most SME's working budget. We as consumers have too much distraction, too many TV channels, publications, radio stations and can flick from one to another at choice. In fact surveys of teens show that they are turning off the TV and turning more to their computers.

The internet is maturing beyond a tool for research to an integrated communications and entertainment portal thanks to better connectivity and cheaper and increasingly mobile hardware.

I found inspiration today through a NZ based website called Business Blogs, recommended to me by a friend, a great read and a good source of information written by everyday people like you and me.

And it was there I found this nice explanation of Social Media using an analogy of one of my favourite things, ice-cream.. Enjoy