Monday, April 10, 2006

You Should Meet (but not like this)

The Internet disintermediates and reintermediates; according to Wikipedia, such is its dynamic nature. But sometimes, it just... intermediates. In activities that you never realized you could use a web-based interface for.

A few weeks ago, I introduced my friend Nathaniel to my other friend Rodney. They're both interested in open source software development. And their small daughters might like each other. And they're the two smartest people I know in DC. I made the introduction the old fashioned way - by emailing them directly.

I just found out, though, that I could have gotten them together through ("YSM").I read about the site in Bob Allard's 'Care and Feeding of your Network' article on Bob says that networking is not about looking for help. Instead, a successful networker looks for ways to help. What can you do for that new person you just met? Do you know of anyone who might want to hire him? Buy his product? Join his company?

This is the philosophy behind YouShouldMeet. You sign up, enter two friends' email addresses, and tell them they should get to know each other. A few weeks later, the system sends both friends a follow up email, asking them whether the introduction was useful.

I loved Bob's article, but I'm not sure I would ever use his site. Couldn't I just enter names of friends and introductory messages in Outlook or Gmail? YouShouldMeet does keep count of the number of introductions made. But neither the tally nor the automated follow up seem like compelling enough reasons to stick with YSM - especially since emails from the site show (rather than me) as the sender.

I see two possible ways to make the site more interesting though:

1. Give it some sort of gate-keeping capability?I enter two friends' emails, and the system sends my introductory message to both. But instead of A and B automatically receiving each other's contact info, they have the option of accepting or declining the introduction. If both parties accept, email addresses are released. If one or both wished to decline, the system offers a list of canned rejection messages. "Sorry, I'm swamped", perhaps? Or "I'm afraid I don't have the [insert subject] expertise you're looking for".

2. Use it to enable multi-user communication?I enter multiple friends' emails, and the system sends my introduction to all. It also creates a private forum where all recipients can post messages. Each friend can choose whether their name or email is displayed, and whether they would like to receive copies of forum posts. This might help eliminate 'reply to all' clutter, and could facilitate bringing a group together for a specific purpose.


Blogger boballard said...

Thanks for the feedback (even if it was not on our site...)
YouShouldMeet is an experimental tool that has lots of potential, but also needs users to tell us what's wrong, what more is needed and why it's great and or sucks.
So thanks. We'll take your advice.

Bob (founder of

10:54 AM  

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