Social Networking Case

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The nearly universal use of the World Wide Web has opened up all sorts of possibilities, especially in a business context - to market, sell, manage, support, and network in new and fun ways. The following vignettes demonstrate how the Web has transformed the way people come together to create both formal and informal working relationships.

A Corporation of One:

The Web has enabled the establishment of virtual corporations where an individual may draw upon the skills of many informally associated colleagues as need be. For example, Bill Germino serves as the President of Openview Solutions a Web site development and collaborative Web services company. Bill is a sole proprietor of Openview but he can tap into a network of some twenty-five-hundred technical professionals depending upon the specific requirements of a particular client assignment. None of Bill’s colleagues are his employees; he does not pay them a salary and benefits. Instead, he pays them an hourly rate for services rendered. Even when bidding for work, Bill may establish an impressive and highly tailored staffing resume that aligns perfectly with the needs of a prospective client. Once a project begins, Bill and his team will use a collaborative portal, employing Microsoft’s SharePoint or EMC’s eRoom (both Web-based portal software) to share documents and execute project work.

How do Bill’s partners use the system? Consider the case of Richard Kesner, a MIS professional with expertise in strategy formulation, decision support systems, and knowledge management, has affiliated himself with any number of organizations like Bill’s where he appears on the roster of project personnel. He is on call to Bill and others as needed. When offered an opportunity, he considers the fit of the assignment, whether it causes any conflicts of interest with other ongoing work in his portfolio, and if he has the time to actually execute the work under discussion. Assuming there are no issues, Richard will accept the project assignment and will be compensated accordingly.

This illustration demonstrates how the Web has created virtual connections between workers and tasks. In the age of the Web, traditional employment arrangements will continue to exist but increasingly these more dynamic and flexible types of partnering relationships will become an equally valid way of doing business.

Reaching for the Stars:

Kate (not her real name) is majoring at Northeastern in business management within the music industry. She is interested in brokering relationships between music creators (composers and performers) and commercial music consumers (e.g. broadcast, movie making and advertising channels). As part of her school work, she read a book about music production at WNZ Media that featured Joyce Jones (not her real name), who heads creative production at WNZ Media. Kate was so impressed with Ms. Jones that she began to follow Jones on Twitter, and friended her on Facebook, leading to an email exchange. Jones in turn began to follow Kate on her twitter account. Through these social networking exchanges Kate built rapport with a major player in the industry and soon felt confident enough to invite Ms. Jones via email to speak at her school as a "female executive in residence" for a day. This visit did in fact take place even though the two women involved had never met face to face. Jones has now linked her blog to Kate’s twitter account. Kate has gone on to "meeting" other executives in the industry via social media.

In a similar vein, Carrie (not her real name) serves as her high school newspaper's music critic. She discovered a new English band from comments some UK teens made on a social media site. She started following the band on Twitter. Soon she began tweeting to and about the band, and they (the Band) began following her on Twitter as well. She subsequently emailed them to ask if she could interview them for an article that she...
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