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About the only folks I've seen in those broad universal social networks are internet marketing people frantically trying to cross-sell each other. Like a bazaar with millions of vendors and no customers, loud and frantic but ultimately unprofitable.

Others (best un-named but not societies starting with W or S) are trying to get free content from knowledgable members to eventually sell to ignorant members. They will make some money from the low-hanging fruit but won't do much to enhance productivity.

On the other hand, both the Training Effect (or Hawthorne Effect) and internal social networking protocols that focus on success stories at your own shop are highly promising venues. Watching all the minnows flash by aimlessly on the Net is a waste of time and attention, IMHO. Get your top performers talking to those emps who would emulate them, and you'll REALLY make something substantial come out of "social networking"!

Jim:

As someone who's stuck her toe in the Twitter water (one of the universal networks you reference), I agree with Paul that it can bring interesting and eye-opening ideas and discussions to you, if you use it well. Certainly it can be an enormous time suck it you don't.

Your point about connecting top performers to employees who would emulate one is right on. It is not "any" social networking that is beneficial here, but using tools or avenues that connect your employees to the right role models and information.

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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