Collaboration and the Power of Social Networks

collaboration.jpgUpdate:  I’ve had some interesting responses to this post in the past week.  A couple of interviews are scheduled and Geoff Livingston over at The Buzz Bin asked me to do a guest blogger recap which should come out this week.  Thanks for your ideas and keep ’em coming!!

Testing…. Testing… is this thing on?? Good! Every day, we hear about the power of social networks to…

  • share new ideas
  • make a difference through charity
  • connect people with common interests
  • enable long-distance collaboration

This is truly the Age of Conversation and there is much to talk about. Thanks to the social networks that I have been participating in over the last 18 months, I have “met” and had conversations with more interesting people from around the world than I ever imagined. As LinkedIn demonstrates, the real power comes the fact that the people in your network also have networks. I may have 100 friends but if each of them has 100 friends, then I potentially have 10,000 friends and this enables ideas to spread very quickly. Given that potential, I would like to take my extended network for a test drive to see what it can do.

A few weeks ago, I told you about a small IT consulting business called Impact Makers. Started by Michael Pirron, a Richmond, VA Social Entrepreneur, Impact Makers is “competitive social venture,” a for-profit business model with a nonprofit mission. The idea is simple –

Create a company that works to make profits, but instead of being based on maximizing shareholder value it’s based on maximizing community value.

To my knowledge, this is a new and unique business model. It is a nonstock corporation overseen by a volunteer board of directors. Its books are open to the public, its officers earn salaries but no equity, and all profits are donated to charitable partners. Those partners must be nonprofit organizations that meet four criteria: They must be secular, nonpolitical, local and have a philosophy of helping people help themselves. For its first charity, Impact Makers chose Safe Harbor, a Henrico County-based advocacy organization for victims of domestic violence.

Steal this business model, please!

While Pirron wants prove that the model works through Impact Makers, his larger objective is seeing the business model spread. He wants people to steal the idea, refine it, apply it to other types of business and create community value in as many places as possible. After writing about Impact Makers and connecting them with some of my readers who also participate in Social Entrepreneurship, Pirron asked if I would help with “marketing” the company’s business model and concepts through social media. In other words, get the “Conversation” started.

That’s where you, the people in my network, come in. I would like your help by suggesting ways to communicate the concept and by communicating it to people in your networks that might find it interesting or even actionable. There are lots of ways to get involved:

  • Share the idea with people in your networks. Have a conversation about it.
  • Interview Michael Pirron for your blog or podcast
  • Connect Michael with other prominent bloggers/podcasters who focus on innovative business models or social causes
  • Suggest ways to effectively communicate Impact Makers’ message to non-profits and academia

Get the idea? Take a look at my previous post and Impact Makers’ website for a quick overview of the company. Then use the comment box to let me know what you think. If you want to contact me for a “conversation”, my e-mail address is here.


7 comments so far

  1. David Armano on

    Interesting idea. I’ll post this on Facebook for starters. I think the idea of having individuals spread among personal networks is good, but aside from friends, how do you get others to do this?

  2. Doug Meacham on

    David, Thanks for the immediate feedback. Getting others to talk about it is a challenge and I don’t expect a very high response rate, but using Gladwell’s terms, I know that there are several Connectors and Salesmen in my extended network. I also suspect that these people know a couple of innovation, business, or social entrepreneurship Mavens.

  3. Marti on

    I’m so glad I’m in your network! I learn about the most amazing things from people I’ve met through social networking. Wishing you and Michael Pirron all the best!

    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog – I really appreciate it. Hope you have a wonderful day!

  4. Geoff Livingston on

    I love it!!!! How about a guest Buzz Bin post on it? Want to do a recap for Wednesday?

  5. […] I read Doug Meacham ’s blog post, “Collaboration and the Power of Social Networks” last weekend, it became apparent to me that this business was practicing many aspects of the […]

  6. The Next Chapter « NextUp on

    […] school” style and it has opened doors to many opportunities. I’m actively engaging in one or two of them and one has become the next step in my […]

  7. Greenfield on

    The more I read the more I do not what to do , I think I have to read less and start talking to every woman I found in my way

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