Daily Archives: March 23, 2009

Marketing Yourself on the Web: Give the Gift of a Name

One of the nicest presents you can give two members of your network is to give each The Gift of a Name.

With one email you can turn two relationhips into four:

  • Yours with one of the two members;
  • Yours with the other member ;
  • The new relationship of the two members;
  • Your relationship with yourself, for taking the time to introduce them.

Not bad? Two relationships turned into four, something especially appealing to me as a progorammer who thus thinks in powers of two.

The time to write the initial email is small, but to be most effective you need to write many more emails, as follows:

Each and every time you accept someone into your network, or they accept you into theirs, you need to review all the membership, looking for two people known to you who would benefit from the give of each other’s name.

Thus the cost of adding a new member grows exponentially as the size of your network grows,

This is perhaps the strongest form, in terms of the value added by each new member, of what is known as the Network Effect.

Even though the cost is high, the benefits of creating new relationships will more than pay for itself, as I have written in my post, On Volunteerism: Cast thy bread upon the waters for thou shalt find it after many days.

The Gift of a Name

A few days back I realized that two women in my network should get to know each other, so I sent the folowing email:

To: Fran Allen, Susanna Kass
From: Dave Shields

You two should get to know each other. The nicest present I can give each of you is the name of the other. Enjoy!


Fran is a legendary figure in programming and compiler optimization. She is the “Allen” in “Cocke/Allen” She was IBM’s first woman Fellow (IBM’s most senior technical postion), and has worked for *decades* to encourage women to make careers in science and technology. She is also one of those rare people, like yourself, about whom it is absolutely impossible to say anything bad.


I met Susanna when she was at Palamida. The OSSC did an evaluation of Palamida back in 2006. I spent a week in Tucson working with Storage folks on the evaluation. On her own initiative, Susanna flew from San Fran to Tuscon and brought along the CTO of Palamida to work with our engineers. I have since met with her several times when she wanted to find a way to help folks engage with IBM, notably Scott Collison, CEO of ohloh.net

Scott Tolliver, Palamida’s CEO, said Susanna was in the top 1% of the people he had worked with, and I agree.

I consider you both to be among my mentors, and am very happy that I can say that.


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