Social Networking Software: Hunting, Gathering, Farming, Manufacturing, Interacting

(Feb 27, 2009) You can predict the evolution. Just like the rest of civilization, access to and relationships with the members of the millions of social networks will evolve along traditional lines:

Hunting, Gathering, Farming, Manufacturing, Interacting.

That’s how the web grew up; that’s how the human race matured.


Most of the so called sourcing techniques being offered today are one-off hunting expeditions. If you need to find a person with x characteristics, here’s how you use search engines to find them. In really advanced sourcing strategies, you get info on how to do this on the larger social networks. Like most hunting, these techniques focus on big places where it’s easy to find large game. Currently, no one we know of is demonstrating the process for nurturing small hunting grounds in the urban sprawl of millions of social networks.If you indulge in the Hunting (needle in a haystack) sourcing approach, please understand that it is nearly outmoded already.


Ami Givertz’ Brown Bag Recruiter Webinars demonstrate the Gathering method. It’s possible, given Google’s largesse, to build massive, continuously updated resume databases in Google using tools provided by Google. As gatherers did in the past, one is able to accumulate in advance of need; saving for a rainy day. It’s a relatively common belief that gathering and storing was the technology that allowed for the invention of capital. Gathering techniques todayare used to build email lists and create so-called relationships through direct marketing technique. It is very important to understand the elements of gathering as they are the foundation of the next steps.


In order to farm, you have to fertilize, rotate crops and avoid over-farming. The work is seasonal and involves giving work in advance of receiving value. Good years yield big surpluses and the ability to reinvest. Over the next several years, you can expect to see companies trying to seed and farm online communities in great numbers. The very nature of farming is cyclical. Bad years produce bad investments. In addition, people aren’t crops. The one sided nature of communities built as company towns will make the phenomenon relatively short lived. In the meantime, expect lots of visionary blather about the intersection of community  and employment branding.

That’s not to say that the technique won’t work in some cases. There are industries, regions and vocations that are small enough to operate like the pure property of a single owner. It’s just not going to be the norm.


Really visionary companies will begin to understand that employment brand management involves harnessing the power of a mosaic. (Hodes might even consider resurrecting the CareerMosaic brand, but that’s another story.) The meaning of a relationship with a company varies by position, region, industry and population distributions within the company. It’s different for a software engineer in Silicon Valley than one in Detroit. It’s different for the janitor (if the job hasn’t been outsourced.)

In  order to effectively navigate the complexity, we’re going to see communities started by vocation and by location within larger companies. There is already some evidence that Microsoft is pursuing the strategy. Many communities under one brand will be the rallying cry. (Diversity Recruiting often works like this today.)

Unfortunately, the manufacturing model still treats people like widgets. Ultimately, these sorts of communities will fail because their design is colonial. All value flows back to the founding company/

Temporary Conclusion

In the next article, a deep look at high value, loyalty driven communities that help companies maintain their labor supply.


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