Thursday, September 25, 2008

Steelers Nation Economy

According to the Economist, LinkedIn is a very busy social network in the midst of the current financial turmoil. Xing is LinkedIn's European rival, but both websites are a good place to do business:

LinkedIn is well on its way to becoming the networking site of choice for English-speaking businesspeople with global connections. But this does not mean that Xing will get squeezed out. If it plays its cards right, it could become the European alternative that takes more account of cultural differences in the way business is done.

Following the advice of a successful Pittsburgh entrepreneur, I settled on LinkedIn as the platform to network the Burgh Diaspora. Our IntoPittsburgh group on LinkedIn is on the cusp of 600 members. Recently, LinkedIn added a discussion feature, which has enjoyed active use among those folks IntoPittsburgh. People are using this network to boomerang back home and find jobs. The amount of intereaction surprised me.

However, the Steeler Nation group serves a similar function and is eqaully popular, if not more so concerning membership discussion. For the most part, these are business people who enjoy talking Steelers, but not much else. A recent study suggests that we shouldn't expect fellow fans to engage in anything beyond sharing the Steelers experience.

After reading Jim Wexell's new book about Steelers Nation, I'm less inclined to agree with the above research results. During Wexell's tour, we learn that Paul Sams (the man behind World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment) was able to do business with Thomas Tull (the man behind The Dark Knight and Legendary Pictures) because both men are Steelers fans:

Blizzard employees wear an ID tage fastened to a lanyard, and Sams' "is a Steelers lanyard that I wear every day." So when Tull, another lifelong Steelers fan, walked into the room, he noticed Sams' Steelers lanyard. Tull thought he was being set up, that this was being done to gain his favor. He was a bit miffed before realizing it was no set-up.

"We ended up hijacking the first 45 minutes of the meeting talking about the Steelers," Sams said. "I've got executives all there, but it was like there was no one elsein the room except me and Thomas. All we were talking about was the Steelers.

"Honestly, we joke about it now, but really what pushed us over the edge, to feel like we could have a trust, was because we had this bond of being Steelers fans. Everything after that came very easy because there was an immediate trust."

The result of that trust is that Legendary Pictures will get to make the World of Warcraft movie. That trust made the transaction possible. That trust could drive a Steelers Nation economy.

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