Agents and networking assistants
The Internet is vast, and even the mainstream social networks have become too big and diffuse . Despite all the resources for finding people, it is hard to find suitably-skilled and -priced support for a specific project, or suitably rewarding employment for the specific skills being offered.
1. Options for meeting other members in the network
Are you having trouble deciding how to use our network, or how to make contact with other members?
One option is just to lie low and see what happens. Not much usually:
A second option is to be proactive, and contact people yourself, based on what information you can find (e.g. in our forums, or in our member profile pages)
A third option is to look for an agent , or networking assistant . The latter might be someone who is in training to become a professional agent, or might be someone who is a professional secretary , for the Internet age.
In the next section I consider only agents.
2. What do agents do?
Their role is to help people make connections, or to be 'match makers'. They might be needed to help with detailed negotiations, if a match is made.
Online social networks (Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) use many approaches to help people find each other, inside each network. The automated approaches are not keeping up with the flood of information washing over us. In fact they keep giving us more and more choices. The choices add to our confusion.
We face an information tsunami .
Agents can be like people who lead others to higher ground - if they know the territory well enough. They need to be specialists and should have constant contact with people who might eventually like to work with each other. Agents may work across many different social networks, to scout for talent and to see where useful connections might be made.
A specialist agent must have patience and good communication skills, to find and contact people who work in a related areas (medical writing and medical translation, for example). Just to cover search and communication costs, an agent might need to charge expensive fees or commissions.
Not all people involved in research and publishing can afford to pay for specialist agents.... but there are many kinds of agent or agency, and many different pricing methods, and some are more affordable.
For example, many editing companies employ an on-call pool of essentially freelance editors. The companies are really acting as agents who look for clients and editors, and mediate between them. If the company has enough volume of work, the fees or commissions can be reduced to an acceptable level.
Book publishing agents also exist. They do not always charge high fees in advance. If they can sometimes find a top-selling author for a publisher, and and can profit from a commission or a share in royalties, then they may be willing to undertake jobs that do not always bring them profit. They need to be 'in the swim' to find the jobs that do bring profit.
There are many pricing methods, for each kind of work done by an agent.
Our network, the Research Cooperative, can be used by various kinds of agent to find and meet people with skills, and potential clients.
Agents can also manage online profiles for others ... a role that requires a lot of trust and professional care. An agent doing this kind of management work might create profile pages on behalf of clients, and then use the forums to help their clients find work, or offer work.
This kind of service is something that a specialist, academic employment agency might like to offer.
Agencies can use small teams composed of discovery specialists, negotiators or brokers, and relationship mediators - or all these functions can be performed by a single, highly skilled person.
Some of the work of agents might be voluntary, some might be for a price, and some might be discounted for various reasons.
Our network cannot offer technical support for price negotiation or financial transactions. Many online job agencies already do this. What we can do is provide a novel environment in which individual agents, teams, or companies (agencies) can:
- emerge from among our members,
- develop their own business plans, and offer specialised services,
- meet people and help them make useful connections with others.
Please explore the possibilities!