Social Networks. Are they a corporate asset?

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Over at Web Strategy, Jeremiah talks about Visible Path's Corporate Social Network Design Council event that he spoke at recently. A key question that he highlights is how do personal and professional networks become both a private asset to an individual as well as being shared by the enterprise.

There's no question that networks are an incredible asset and they have been for decades. That's half the value of an MBA program most people would say. The question is whether anything is different in the online space now that it has gotten far easier to manage one's networks and to mine a network by leveraging the different degrees of separation.

They're certainly an asset but I don't think the networks can be shared by an enterprise without the active participation of the individual. I can give you my phone book. But unless I personally introduce or connect you with all the people in the phone book, no one will take your calls. This means that networks are primarily an individual asset and will always be. Rather than trying to mine an individual's network, companies should focus on helping employees build their own personal networks. As long as those employees are with the company, the company will benefit too.  

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