Recently, I have been noticing quite a few people learning to use the Status Update function on LinkedIn. Also, I have been noticing quite a few invites for TripIt and Foursquare. It got me thinking about tracking business colleagues and not just friends. This let me to think about how one could possibly spy on each other with validation and certainty. Here’s how the scenario goes.
Each day, I take a look at who is travelling to where on TripIt and FourSquare. In particular, look of those who are in the Marketing, Sales, Business Development or C-Level role. By using the time and dates, I observe over a period of a week after their trip to see who they have added to their LinkedIn profile. While this is no true indicator of making deals or closing sales, if you notice that your contact is makes repeated trips to that one location, that’s a pretty good indication.
By way of example: I travel to Kansas City, MO this week and arrive on Monday afternoon. You know that I will be there for three days and returning Thursday that same week. On Wednesday, you notice that I am “connected” via LinkedIn to John Smith, Director, Product Management, Sprint Data Services. A few weeks later, you notice that I make another trip out to Kansas City for about the same amount of time. This time you notice that I connect to Michael Johnson, Business Development Manager, Sprint Data Services. And so on. You take a look at my Foursquare and I notice where I check into my hotel. You see where I go to eat. Then you notice that during work hours, I check in at the Sprint Campus. By now you’ll add up all the pieces of evidence and what you do with the information is at your disposal.
Well, it’s all a matter of perspective. One thing that I would not recommend, is connecting TripIt to your LinkedIn profile. Unless you’re speaking at a Conference, Tradeshow or Event, it’s probably best not to link the two for all your trips. With respect to foursquare, I try to limit the list of friends who have access to where I am to a minimum. Also, if I’m in the business meeting, I tend not to share the fact that I checked-in to a business meeting. One gotcha that you can’t prevent is if you become the Mayor of that location. This is obviously a dead give away. A few weeks ago, I become the Mayor of a Venture Capital’s office on Sand Hill Road and a few folks contacted me afterwards and asked me if I was applying for a job or closing on some venture funding. My answer was Yes. Try to use foursquare perhaps for more social things than business events.
Social networking, location based services and travel applications are great at providing convenience and some efficiencies, but you might want to temper that with realizing how much information you are sharing publicly and with your friends and colleagues. I think most are aware that when applying for a job, recruiters and hiring managers will seek you out and look at your Facebook, LinkedIn and other accessible profiles. You might want to think through the same logic when connecting all of these services.