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Inspired by Mike G.’s spring cleaning post, I’ve been thinking about all the social networks I have joined both as part of my work and for my work. As an Internet strategist, I try to test out all the sites and Web apps that I can so I can make educated recommendations to my clients based on hands-on experience as well as research and anecdotal information. As a Web worker, I use my social networks to source stories and make contacts and connections that could lead to more work.
I decided to put three of the professional networks that I belong to through a completely non-scientific analysis to see how they are working for me. Of course, once I got this idea in my head, the answers were obvious to me, but it is a good exercise to write it all down.
So without any further ado, the networks I will look at are Ryze, SoFlow, and Xing.
My Ryze Page: http://www.ryze.com/go/alizasherman
Whenever I log into Ryze, I find two things to be true:
- Everyone seems to have been members since around 2002 but stopped updating their pages in 2004 – or least the people I know and with whom I want to connect. There is almost an eerie, time-capsule feeling about it.
- I don’t know what to do on the site. I have only two friends which is usually the kiss of death for any attempts at actually networking on a social networking site. I’ve invited some other friends, but they are all on Facebook or LinkedIn these days.
Plus I’ve never gotten any inquiries, requests to friend, or lead from Ryze. I think Ryze’s day has come and gone.
VERDICT: TRASH IT
Well, when I wasn’t looking at SoFlow, which was often, it became Wis.dm or at least the SoFlow URL points there now. From what I can tell Wis.dm (“wisdom” is a social networking site based around users interacting with one another by answering yes or no questions.
No wonder I haven’t heard from SoFlow in nearly a year.
Just for kicks, I entered my SoFlow username and password. And? Nothing. Of course, just like spring cleaning around the house, this one seems like something I should hold onto instead of throwing away. Since it is a new service to me (but old by Web standards circa mid-2007), I should try it out just to see what it’s all about.
VERDICT: SIGN UP FOR THE NEW SITE
My Xing page: http://www.xing.com/profile/Aliza_ShermanRisdahl
When it comes to international social networks, Xing seems to be a player. Formerly Open BC, the service seems to cater to the European Union much more than the States. Of my confirmed contacts of which there are…five, two are from Alaska (one who moved to Alaska from Europe), one is from South Africa, one from India, and one from Germany who served as an intern at my Internet company back in the mid-90s.
Other than reconnecting with said intern, Xing hasn’t produced much more than the occasional very random request to connect from some guy in his late 50s in some far flung country. Not sure what that means, exactly. Is Xing an international dating site posing as a professional networking site? Or am I just not using it so I’m relegated to the “has no contacts so she must be desperate” pool?
I’ve never paid for the premium membership and just feel that I can make international contacts through many other networks such as Twitter, Second Life, and Facebook, for example. While Ryze seems like it will continue to provide no value to me, for some reason Xing seems like there’s hope. I’m on the fence with this one.
VERDICT: CONTINUE TO LET LANGUISH
I’ve described how several professional networks are not really working for me. I know that any social network is really only as good as how often you use it and how many connections you have, but even when I pay little or no attention to LinkedIn, it still proves useful to me. I’ve even set up a new LinkedIn account for my Second Life avatar which has helped me connect with contacts from several major corporations specifically for my Second Life work including International Hotel Group and Manpower. Not too shabby for a social networking account for a virtual, cartoony version of myself.
When it comes to spring cleaning social networks, should I actually delete the ones I don’t use or continue to leave them languishing? Part of me says that even though they are not serving immediate purposes in my Web work or network building, they are still a “satellite” presence for me that someone may randomly happen upon one day and offer me a high-paying freelance gig.
And to me, it is almost criminal to delete content off the Web. There is something so nostalgic about stumbling onto a very old Web page that I remember from the early days of the Web without having to visit the WayBack Machine. Still, nostalgia doesn’t pay the bills.
Delete or let languish? That is the question.