Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Are Social Networks really that different when it comes to our professional needs?

This morning on ABC's Good Morning America, there was an article that suggested "Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace that were once exclusively for social purposes are now increasingly being used for recruitment — and that will blossom even more this year. Employers are using these sites to promote their job openings, their corporate cultures and even their benefits all in an effort to encourage you to apply."

First of all, I realize that Linked in wasn't used exclusively for social purposes. Let's move beyond the obvious . . .

Many corporations and recruiters use these sites, but are the sites accomplishing anything for those seeking jobs? In other words, corporations spend loads of money elsewhere promoting their brand to potential customers and employees, are these sites just another venue? Are they effective? And, what does the individual job-seeker get from all this?

I think it depends on the mindset. Ultimately, these sites could be treated like any other new community. But if the same recruiting strategy doesn't work in all places, how much time and money do you need to spend in the new community before you figure that out? Are there different rules when we use social networking sites?

I read recently (but cannot recall or find where) that actively accessing loose connections will be more likely to help you find a job than close connections. The premise was that close connections (you and your closest friends) all know the same people. Loose connections (someone you met at a party, know from church, or met on an airplane) know a whole bunch of people you have never met. At what point are we connecting just to make contacts, though? I've heard the advice that we should dig the well before we are thirsty, but at what point do we have access to enough well water?

Jay Deragon's recent post noted "The social web is creating a new measure of business based on the fundamentals of relationships." Are there new rules for developing these relationships? Do the folks that are doing business in the social network space know what the rules are?

Katherine Walsh, in a piece addressing the topic of social networking as a job search strategy, said:

Once you do make the connection, whether new or old, make sure you set a timeline for following up, Combs says. It’s especially important to do this time of year, when people are increasingly busy outside of work. “You don’t want to pester people, but set a date to talk again and be disciplined about it.”

So there are some networking rules and best practices that apply both within and outside the digital world. The challenge is finding out what they are (presently) and then staying on top of them as they change. For those who are new to the online networking world, it would be a great idea to check out Jibber Jobber's suggestions on how to avoid being a digital nuisance in 2008.

If none of this makes sense, check out this video:

If you want to discuss this on LinkedIn,
come on over!

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

The information your were looking to source about loose connections might have come from Malcom Gladwell's book the The Tipping Point. Here he talks about weak-ties being your best source for landing a job.


carterfsmith said...

Thanks AAARenée! Per the link in your email . . . when it comes to finding out about new jobs--or, for that matter, new information or new ideas--"weak ties" are generally more important than those you consider strong. Why is that? Think about it.

Many of your closest friends and contacts go to the same parties, generally do the same work, and exist in roughly the same world as you do. That's why they seldom know information that you don't already know.

Your weak ties, on the other hand, generally occupy a very different world than you do. They're hanging out with different people, often in different worlds, with access to a whole inventory of knowledge and information unavailable to you and your close friends.

Mom was wrong--it does pay to talk to strangers.

Anonymous said...

Mom was partly right.

If your brother in law the accountant is out of work, then the computer guy you know at what could be his next employer is a great link.

For day-to-day stuff, do you really want to exchange accounting jokes with that other company's accounting guys?

Just like you usually go to parties with people you know and like but might from time to time like some variety, same thing here.

Loose connections have a purpose, but don't oversell it.

carterfsmith said...

OK, so the rule is if you can talk shop with them, they probably can't help you change workplaces, and (like in politics) surrounding yourself with people who are just like you can lead to 1) a boring time and 2) bad decisions . . .