In the last few weeks I have spent some time looking around on Spock. I realized that I am one of the top 500 Spock users. That was a big surprise. All I had done is tag people that I discovered with tags that were relevant to them.
I have also been using Plaxo and Plaxo's Pulse service. Plaxo is a great way to keep up with what friends and colleagues are doing. The biggest benefit I find from Plaxo is the integration it provides with the address book on my Mac. This integration keeps me up to date when people I know, who are also on plaxo, update their contact information.
Now, I have been following the tales of people like Robert Scoble on their use of Facebook and hitting the limit of 5,000 friends. I have also been experimenting with Facebook and MySpace but get frustrated because some of the locations I work from actually block FaceBook and MySpace - Luddites!
There has been a lot of debate about the merits of Facebook versus LinkedIn. Personally, I believe they are complimentary, more than competitive. However, during all this experimentation I think I may have stumbled upon an incredibly powerful solution for social networking. What is that power combination?
LinkedIn + Spock + Plaxo.
LinkedIn is a great service for professional networking. Spock is a great people search engine that helps you discover people on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Pownce, Twitter and other social networks. Plaxo provides great feeds to keep me up to date on friends activities and posts and more importantly keeps their contact information up to date. I still realize that the majority of people I want to connect with have LinkedIn accounts. Each of these services plays a vital role. Let's take an example of what happens.
I can do a search for people with similar interests on Spock, for example Enterprise 2.0, I can find a link to people's LinkedIn profile. You can reach out with Spock and request a Trust relationship. The next step is that you progress to creating a relationship with LinkedIn. One of the neat features with LinkedIn is the ability to download a vCard to add to your address book. This is when Plaxo kicks in. If you download the vCard and add it to your address book it typically contains a person's email address. The background integration with Plaxo then discovers if this person is on Plaxo and you can suddenly find that address record populated with additional contact information, depending upon what information the person has chosen to release through Plaxo.
This is incredibly powerful. I had been thinking that I would need to choose between Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo as my social network of choice but with the addition of Spock in to the mix I realize I don't need to choose and the combination of services becomes even more powerful.
When you think about it. Spock is demonstrating the potential that Google is grasping at with their OpenSocial initiative. If you haven't checked out Plaxo or Spock, do so. You owe it to yourself if you need to network. As you move in to 2008 it will supercharge your abilities to network.