Friday, November 30, 2007

The Seven Sins of the IT Manager

This week I was speaking at a conference for IT managers on the merits of networking online & offline. Networking as a verb, not as an IT tool that is. Every IT manager should add networking to his to do list, but few of them ever put in in practise, despite the fact that a vast majority is convinced that networking will lead to the best carreer opportunities, employees and suppliers.

For those of you who couldn't make it, here is my personal "best of" of the 7 Sins committed by IT Managers ;-)
  1. Lurking.
    From the verb 'to lurk', is the designated word for those who get a member profile on a social network, but who fill out only half of the information and don't put a picture...They think they will reap the results of social networking without actually networking...

  2. Laziness.
    Networking is more than accepting invites to wine & dine from your vendors: although interesting, these venues are not the best place to meet people you wouldn't meet otherwise. Here you will mostly find other IT managers and sales people.

  3. A good IT manager can sell.
    Many IT managers do not realize they should be able to sell their department when facing questions from their non IT colleagues or outsiders. Do you have an elevator story on the business value of your IT department? What does your department bring to the company as added value?

  4. PR.
    An IT manager should be known by all and sundry within his company, since his department interacts with all other departments. He/she should not nonly be visible when the server is down!

  5. Too little fighting spirit.
    If an IT manager is convinced of the stategic (added) value of IT for his organisation, he should not settle for anything less than a seat on the management team.

  6. To pass the buck.
    Too many IT managers leave the choice of HR providers to their HR department. If a headhunter is to work for an IT department, the IT manager should insist on sitting in on the meeting and take the decision together with the HR manager. People who do not understand your business will rarely find you the qualified candidates you so desperately need.

  7. Life-long learning.
    Although technical IT people usually follow training courses to keep abreast of new technologies, we see a lot less consistency with IT managers. Keep in mind that regular people of business management education will also offer the opportunity to get to know new, interesting people for your network (e.g. alumni networks).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

MyNetworkValue, an interesting add-on from Xing

One of my online networking friends, Giorgio Occhioni, was kind enough to give me the heads up on a new service Xing (one of Europe's most important social networks) is offering. I'm mentioning it here because I'm quite impressed with the way Xing has invented this free tool and turned it into a marketing instrument for its paying service at Xing.

MyNetworkValue is a website where you can measure the worth of your network according to your age and number of contacts. They even place an amount in euros on it, which is not nearly scientific, but a fun test to do. You only need to fill out some parameters and this test gives you a number which you can then compare to the average in your age group, industry and country.

The only drawback I see is that the test is only available in German so far, and if as a Dutch speaker I understood enough to take it, I can imagine French speakers or Spanish speakers will simply walk away. But as far as the idea goes, I think it is pretty smart of the Xing people to offer this generic network test to redirect users to their website.

After all, who doesn't want to know how much his/her network is worth?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Good practices for social networks

One of the funny aspects of social networking is there seems to be a "wave of popularity" just as much as in other aspects of daily life. The "hot or not" principle applies to communities as it does to cars, fashion, actresses and music. For example: 8 to 12 months ago I got a wave of invitations from people who wanted to connect with me on Jobster, 6 months that became Facebook, two months ago Plaxo and today it seems to be Spock (although Plaxo is still going strong).

Known as an ardent networker, I'm always happy to get in touch with people I know, and to meet new faces (even electronically). The more diversity the better! However, there are two things in social network invitations that profoundly get on my nerves. (and I'm talking built-in features of the community, so it's not the fault of the users)

First, I really don't appreciate having to log into the system completely before I can read the message one of my contacts sends me. I understand why community founders do this of course (and quite a few adopted this policy), but I find it counterproductive. Since I know that 50% of all messages can wait (meaning they don't have to be dealt with right away), I hate getting "trapped" into losing time to log in and then discover it was for nothing. If you get an email from someone, you see the message right away too, right?

Secondly, I resent communities where you cannot choose the frequency of receiving messages. Some only let you pick between receiving messages as they come in -meaning you get a busload of messages every day- and logging into the system to receive your messages -meaning you have a busload of messages waiting for you if you happen to forget about this prticular community for a while. What's wrong with giving your users the opportunity to choose the one a week option?

Anyway, all this to say that I just complimented the guys from Spock on an email they sent today. I was just getting annoyed with them for pestering me with point 1 and 2, and they seem to have good New Year's resolutions to at least fix annoyance number two :-)
Here is an extract of their mail:

Hi - I noticed that you got a lot of emails from people you know or who know
you, asking for trust on yes!
It looks like a lot of people want your trust, which is a good thing:)

But, getting dozens of emails asking for trust can be a bit annoying. keep going!
We are working to make it a digest so you only get a compiled list of people requesting trust once a week. why didn't I think of that?
Sorry about all those emails :( we forgive you
We did not think this search feature on Spock would be so popular so quickly.

To accept their trust, you can just click below: tell me what to do and promote your network in a nice way

They also say in their email that most of the new features come directly out of the suggestions members make to them. So we can actually make a difference in how we want our Web 2.0 life to be organized. Next time your getting annoyed about a community feature, don't whine; send an email (ok you may whine a little first before sending the email ;-)