A while back, I wrote about my re-engagement with LinkedIn. It's become a key aspect of how I work, leveraging my contact network to make new contacts and keeping tabs on my network of business contacts. LinkedIn is designed for business contacts and is a great way to map how your network of contacts are linked. You can use it for evil (or spam), but I have been careful not to. Now, whenever I get someone's contact info, I put it into Outlook and check to see if they are on LinkedIn. I'm not pushing LinkedIn on those who don't use it, but I want to leverage it to the max for those who do.
In the last month or so, I have seen a huge increase in activity on Facebook among my business contacts. Facebook started off as a social network to help college students keep track of their old friends from high school while they meet more people on their campus. As a college alum, I was able to get onto Facebook early on, but I didn't use it much. Most of my use was in my role as an alumni advisor to my college fraternity at MIT. It reinforced how much social dynamics have changed in the 25 years since I graduated college.
Now, Facebook is open to all, and more business contacts are using it to keep in touch on what they do every day. And, Facebook has opened up an API to allow developers to add applications. These applications are growing rapidly, making Facebook a huge force on the Internet going forward.
I decided to dive in to Facebook head (or face?) first and see how it goes. The content of who is doing what when is not as useful to me as LinkedIn, but it is fun to see what people post about themselves each day, who has met whom, what events they go to, etc. It's interesting, but I am not sure how useful it is. If business users are a target for Facebook, they probably need to reorganize it and restructure it to capture business relationships (which are different than social relationships). There are many ways to describe how you met a social contact, but 'worked with' is about the only way to describe a business contact. And 'worked with' is really meant to describe when you worked at the same company.
[One humorous note -- I connected with one of my neighbors on Facebook. There is no way to describe this relationship. 'Lived with' isn't right (and would definitely concern my wife). The next most applicable is 'met randomly' which I guess describes how much control you have over your neighbors.]
Some companies, like Geezeo, use Facebook to market to college students. That's a different kind of business relationship than the relationship between me and an LP from one of my former funds. What do I want the LP to know about my weekend activities? I'd better be careful...Of course, I wouldn't hesitate to connect to them on LinkedIn where we share contact information and work experience.
Business readers, let me know what you find useful (and not just interesting) about using Facebook for your business contacts. Maybe I'm just tool old...But, I'm trying to think young!