Will we have Chief Networking Officers?

Octavio Pitaluga is one of the folks on Yahoo Groups’ MyLinkedinPowerForum that is a bit of a mainstay. He’s an active networker, and written about the CNO – Chief Networking Officer – position. Recently he posted on an interview with Selma Prodanovic of brainswork™ on her position as CNO.

I think it’s very interesting, but I’m not sure larger companies will buy into the role. After all, Selma’s position is at a company that she started herself. Still it’s interesting and as an alternative I can see the value being split into other roles:

1. As part of an Internet Expert role – someone who’s helping the company manage it’s internet presence. This would traditionally be done by PR firms, but web 2.0 brings many things, like social networking sites and blogs, that involve personal employee involvement.  The problem with traditional PR/branding mentalities is they are used to having control that you lose on the web. A dictatorial approach here will backfire.  It’s in the company’s best interest to pursue involvement in networking sites because even though they may be other’s property, they can still impact the company.  The smart course is to put guidelines in place and encourage the kind of activity that helps both the employee and the company. The not quite as smart course is to ignore it until some sap causes a problem, and then fire him. I see the Internet Expert being the one who trains employees on how to get connected, and how to get the most of out of these systems for both the company’s and their own benefit.

2. As a new breed of resource whom I’ll refer to as The Connected One. That is, the person who’s got the responsibility for finding the help needed when it’s outside of HR’s baliwik. TCO is the person you go to when you need info or help, and you have no idea where to get it. Every company has one or more of these people, but social networking sites will comoditize and quantify this value and make it more accessible to others.  I believe that possession of a large network will become a documentable (i.e. on a resume) asset. However, I don’t think this value requires a position unto itself.

Regardless, social networking sites add an undeniable value. The quantity of that value and the nature of its use is still changing, but I believe that these systems will soon see every day use in the business world.

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