I think we all know the sorry feeling that we lost track of people we knew and worked with in the past but lost sight of. In the past it a was always very hard to find them again. Since some time now there is a new social network called LinkedIn. The idea is that you can find people by name and that they themselves keep their profiles up date. Meaning you can find them on their current e-mail address.
By using it I already found some old friends from the places I worked, colleagues, customers and partners. It even integrates into outlook and recognizes people you may know from all the old e-mails you have sent (I have an archive of all my mails from 1997 and on)
This linking to each other creates an interesting web. You can normally see the acquaintances of other people and and have a look at their network. Potentially you can get an introduction for people you wish to contact. One of the other interesting features is that you can pose a question that others can try to answer.
It seems to be growing explosively, especially in the Netherlands…
I think one of the reasons it works is that the identity of the people involved is (on average) accurate. People are who they say they are. After all, the network is also meant for finding real people and real jobs. So there is no use in providing false identities. I am really curious in how this network is evolving. Another interesting aspect is that the network that people build based on their role is becoming more their own instead of their employers. This may create a feeling of independence (which is a good thing in my book). Potentially the added value for the users is much bigger than it is in networks like facebook since it keeps track of how your career evolves after graduation.
I sent them an e-mail to find out if it is possible to get (anonymously) their data on the linkages between people. This of course is a small world network but it is interesting to find out what kind of people are the connectors, what is the average separation, and so on. I have not yet received an answer…
You can find me on linkedIn .