Social networking for the workplace

Social networking for the workplace is a problem that has been bugging me for a while, and there are no simple, usable solutions out there yet.

So I’ve put together my idea of a simple solution for you to critique. It may be a gap in the market, or it may be a stupid idea that has no chance of working in reality, which is why I’m kicking it into the wild so you can criticise it before I put too much effort into building it. Take a look at it and let me know what you think!

Summary: Find and network with people who have the skills you need, quickly and simply.

Problem:Too many complicated networking sites that lock you in and expect you to enter your life history and then demand payment when you want to do anything of value on the site. Overcharging for basic services and complicated sign ups mean that not many people want to use these sites, which reduces their value by at least 80% instantly, so the people actually paying for the service aren’t getting their money’s worth.

Solution: Simplified networking using just your name and keywords such as “Java, SQL, looking for contract, looking for permanent employment” where “looking for contract” and “looking for permanent employment” are common keywords that everyone will use so they don’t get offers they’re not interested in.

Once you’ve created your profile, you can search for a keyword, or combination of keywords, to find people to chat to. So if you’re looking for a Java contractor you’d search for “java, looking for contract” and then decide who you want to contact based on how their skills have been endorsed by others.

You can then leave a message in their inbox asking them to contact you, and they can reply or block you at their discretion.

Once they reply you can add them to your network, and they are requested to authorize the link. Either of you can delete the link if you want to.

When you’re networked with someone you can endorse their skills individually. For example, if you’ve worked with someone and know they’re good at project management, you can choose to endorse their skill with a short comment saying why you’re endorsing it. This pushes that person up in the rankings of “project management” searches.

If a certain number of people have blocked someone, then their profile will be flagged for investigation and probable black listing.

That’s the heart of the idea, other details will be fleshed out later once a workable prototype is online. Please let me know what you think and if you have any better ideas. Thanks!

2006.08.21