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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

How LinkedInUSAF started ...

First blog post - seems I should go into what this blog is all about. Why not, you took the time to come here, I should at least give you the insight into why I am doing all this - on my own.

LinkedIn is a great tool. I had some relative exposure and a limited set of connections. Over time I have been growing in my use of social networking, and had great fun being a member of SNUG (social network user group - founded by Dutch Driver). The weekly meetings and chances to network were great, but Dutch moved back to Texas and I needed to spread my wings on my own.

I started to work LinkedIn. The most interesting revelation is that one can look through old phone lists, collected e-mail addresses from earlier contacts, and often when you are browsing the net and you find an interesting article, jot down the author's e-mail address and take a chance! All these resources are at our disposal. You just have to begin to get creative.

While improving my LinkedIn profile and contacts, I began to gain exposure on some forums. After a few postings and invites to join from the moderators, I have now ended up all over the LinkedIn landscape (at least the terra firma that interests me):


Then I met some more folks from those forums, and via new connections, and ended up joining their groups and associations:

ONEKO Internet Entrepreneurs
RFID Tribe
SCUEBA (Santa Clara University Engineering Business Alliance)
NorCal PDMA Forum
Early Stage Entrepreneurs
CareerLink Network
Pioneer Entrepreneurs

Now, all this social networking stuff is cool. But I have had a first love when it comes to my career - the United States Air Force. My biggest and most influential first job was in the USAF. I had some great assignments and was given a TON of responsibility. I worked on systems that were so state of the art that I could not even tell my family what I was working on. If I found an article or a news spot that said a little bit about what I was doing, I'd be shouting to the rafters for my family to catch up and read or watch the TV.

Now days, I just switch to Discovery Wings Channel (now The Military Channel) with my wife and our two girls and point:

  • Daddy worked on that plane (MC/EC/HC/C-130)
  • Daddy worked on that plane (EC/RC/KC-135 & KC-135Q [special])
  • OK, Daddy worked on those planes too (SR-71, U-2, TR-1)
  • Daddy got to board one of those to do a "quick turn repair", and she had "red guns", whew that was a great day (AC-130 Spectre)
  • That GPS system was first known as NAVSTAR, which was part of JTIDS, and I "burlap sacked" some of that stuff at 2AM
  • Those "birds" went to some unbelievable places
  • The crews on those missions saw some unbelievable %@#^&*! :)
All that crammed into a short tour in the Air Force.

I lived in Germany for two years and lived on the economy (that means I rented an apartment and did not live in the barracks). I drove all over on one three day weekend: up to the Netherlands, through Luxembourg, down through France, over to Switzerland, and then back to Frankfurt. I drove through the "Eastern Block" in my Dodge Charger 2.2 - from Helmstedt to West Berlin through East Germany (eeks, that was freaky). Folks, this was during the height of the cold war - 1982 to 1984. I walked all over East Berlin, in full uniform, or I'd be shot as a spy!

Oh yeah, those were the days ...

Now I take my family to places where they can touch planes no one could ever get near without being shot. You can walk right up and touch the wingtip of an SR-71, a U-2, and a YF-12A!!! Oh yeah, you can! Granted you have to drive to the Mojave Desert (Palmdale CA) to do this, but I'm tellin' you if you love planes, this is a MUST DO TRIP!!! This is all at the Blackbird Airpark.

All that memory lane brought me to the following groups and associations:

Flight Test Historical Foundation
Air Force Assoc Chapter 361 (AFA - Tennessee Ernie Ford)
Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Assoc (AFCEA)
Blackbirds Web site (I worked on both, but the SR-71 is my favorite)
C-130 HQ Message Board (those that worked on all flavors of C-130s)

I started to realize that there are a ton of folks out there that may not have the access to so many resources. These folks may not know where to go on the internet, or have anyone that they can talk to other than their family and close friends. What if they needed to ask someone how to get some assistance from the VA Hospital, or needed separation paperwork so that they can apply for a VHA Loan, or get a loan through the Pentagon Federal Credit Union? What if someone's teenager is applying to a college and needs an "in" to the admissions process, or a son or daughter is applying for a job at a big company and needs to get their resume "on the right desk"? What if you are an airman and just separated from the Air Force and you don't know where to start, but you'd like to work at Lockheed or Litton or L3 Communications?

  • Maybe some LinkedIn folks can help?
  • Maybe if I connect a bunch of us, we can all network to help?
  • Maybe there is a better way to provide access to internet resources?
  • Maybe I should get off my butt and start something new!
Now, full circle, you can see how I came about creating the LinkedInUSAF Yahoo! Group. I have been trying to build up my connections to gain critical mass so that I can start a formal LinkedIn Group. Then all my connections, and others that join the LinkedInUSAF Group, can have a "badge" displayed in their LinkedIn profile - like this one:

Alright, it takes time to ensure I can get as many folks into the LinkedInUSAF Yahoo! Group. I want to get maximum membership as possible without offending any of the LinkedIn members. There are some pretty touchy folks out there ...

I have tried a few requests. Right now my hit rate is >75% - only a select few did not want to connect directly. After reading a blogger posting from Rick Upton I think there might be a better way to get maximum reach and an increase in membership. His algorithm seems to be a simple way of doubling up on future members. I'll have to see how well it works - some folks complained and didn't want to be part of an "alumni group". Oh well ...


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