An interesting thing happened just a little bit ago. As I was casually watching the new and having a conversation with my wife, they announced that a certain person was now being charged with murder in the death of his wife. That is not the interesting part mind you, however the fact that the accused was someone I once worked with for sometime was. In fact, this particular person was often a colleague who joined in lunch outings and after hours drinks at local pubs. It has been a while since the person and I have had a conversation, both of us having moved on to different companies and such, though we have run into each other a couple of times at least over the years. However, the thing that caught my attention the most was the fact we are tier one connections on LinkedIn.
I am sure a few of you are familiar with LinkedIn, but I am guessing a fair number of you have never heard of it. So to that end, a bit of filling in is in order. LinkedIn is, to put it as simple as possible, is Facebook for adults, especially those in looking to establish and perhaps move upward in the world of business. Granted that is very big oversimplification of what all LinkedIn is and what is all about, but it gives you some idea at least.
Probably the greatest usage is for networking on a business level. Very similar to friending on Facebook, you can establish connections on LinkedIn. Through connections you can network to either sell or promote a product or an idea, or if the time is right perhaps sell and promote yourself. The connections you make though are severely limited compared to Facebook’s very open make a friend of anyone process. In fact, you have to know someone directly and further be able to establish that connection via information you might have, such as a valid company email. A second alternative, once you are in network group, such as a common employer, periodically you can look to see who is listed there that you may know is now part of LinkedIn. Those connections are tier one or primary connections.
Secondary connections are where you look through your tier one connections and see someone they are linked to. I think (been a while since I have done this) you still have to establish knowledge of the person to connect with them, but they would be tier two – even though you may have known them first or more than the first person. Regardless, you can see quickly how the interaction of one person with the various people he knows quickly leads to the six degrees concept to anyone else. The networking potential of this, fully leveraged, without all the often silliness of Facebook could be high indeed.
Of course, the nature of establishing those beginning connections tend to be slow, at least if you do it naturally without becoming a nuisance to people in the process (which would be self defeated if you think about it). Because of this, I think, the site has lagged way behind Facebook in membership and especially usage. In fact, I was reading a blog about such things right before seeing this and was thinking about LinkedIn and how neglected my account was and hence had it in mind when I saw the above accused murderer come across the television news.
This brings up the question though. Given that the accused is one my primary tier one connections combined with my minimalistic approach to LinkedIn at this point, I am not sure what to do. Granted, the accused is just that this point and still will have a day in court. However, it does not look for accused either based on what limited information I have heard. What if I were applying for a job? Would the proper thing to be to disconnect? Can you even do that in LinkedIn? If you do that, does it drop those tier two connections coming through the accused as the tier one? Isn’t it odd that this occurred with someone I have known in the past really well compared to those several hundred people who I have friended do based on a casual acquaintance over on Facebook?
** – Image is promotion image for LinkedIn.Com.