I have been using LinkedIn for a long time but it has taken a new focus recently as I actively use it to build out my potential business contacts.
It has many good features that allow you to define your online profile and easily share this with would be partners, colleagues, customers.
There are many of these Social Networking tools available today and it allows a good depiction of the kind of people you know, who they know and out. LinkedIn also gives you a break down of what your network looks like as you build contacts and connect and you get to see the kind of people they are connected to.
This is a very powerful tool and it could be used in a very useful way if you were (or wanted to become a Telco 2.0).
Your average Telco 1.0 that serves Joe Public knows; and possibly cares, very little about you as a person. See Paul's posting on "you the ARPU" and see how different the Social Network view of your customer is from Name: Number: ARPU: We are so much more than that and we could become your most powerful marketing tool.....
I would like to see someone offer me a Russian Doll approach to Closed Calling Groups (aka Calling Circles, VPN's)
People who are directly connected to me I can call for free.
People who are friends of friends (2 degrees of separation) are not free but cheap rate.
As you go further out away from you and as the doll gets bigger the rate increases.
What does the Telco get? they get a more loyal subscriber base and they know more about you and who you are connected to. This becomes a good platform for upsell and cross-sell of services and content.
It would require a new approach to directory services. Rather than the traditional Operator centric helicopter view of the subscribers it could become an subscriber centric contact list out.
Much of the information is available in the would be Telco 2.0's that are out there today. Yahoo, Skype, Hotmail all use contact lists that are not as flat as a phone book (or contact list on your handset).
Is there a billing or mediation system that could do it though?.......