(Dec 19, 2008) As the year winds down, prognosticators all over the world run their greedy little hands together. Now is the time for impressive feats of crystal ball gazing and hearty forecasting. Since no one has been speculating about the future of RBC, it seems like a good time and place to get the ball rolling.

I'm going to give you ten predictions about social media, Recruiting and RBC. I encourage you to disagree or forecast some of your own weather. I'm reminded of an old saying, "The best way to predict the future is to make it."

Like life, these predictions are contradictory.

  1. The Economic Climate
    January's news will make this fall look like the good old days. Companies who were too kind to do a holiday season layoff will clean house by mid month. By the inauguration, newspapers will be selling at record breaking levels. Then someone will notice that the only place where the news is really bad is in the media. Lots of recruiters will get dislocated next year (but that's because of the changes in recruiting, not the economy.)
     
  2. How Many Friends?
    The tension between exclusivity and popularity will increase for high volume networkers like Recruiters. More and more often you will hear stories of people who stop networking in their private lives. Keeping the personal and the professional distinct will be understood as a virtue. (Sadly, I won't be very good at this new trend)
     
  3. The Network Is Mine
    These days, the basic notion is that the network is ours. We are the community. Ownership of the community comes in two flavors, formal and informal. Formal ownership involves the ability to terminate or transform the community from a structural standpoint. The informal ownership are the people who make the community lively and active. At RBC, the two overlap pretty well. If  you look around, economic stress is causing some very generous people to start extracting their pound of flesh from the community. As the example gets set, people will come to understand the community as a series of overlapping entities. Each of us are at the center of our own universes. Ultimately, the shift from "we" to "I" will hurt the sense of community.
     
  4. I Own My Own Network
    It's easy to imagine everyone having their own Ning account (or equivalent). It makes some sense to consider an organization that is contribution based. Those who contribute more get more back. By building gated Ning communities, we could each control the flow of value from our own networks to RBC and vice versa. Each of us will own our own toll road into the community.
     
  5. People Will Go Rafting In The Information River
    Although Twitter is flawed, the phenomenon is not going away. RBC activities will decline as members try to deal with info flows from the 1,000 people they follow. Ultimately, the survivors will flourish by cruising the waves of information. Very strong social connections can be leveraged using Tweets.
     
  6. Defriending
    I have thousands of connections on LinkedIn. That makes it my own personal resume database. It also makes it unlikely that I will build warm relationships there. The places where I have really strong relationships will involve prioritization. So, you can expect to see a movement towards network exclusivity, particularly in the over 40 crowd.
     
  7. Email Dies Quickly, Traffic Falls Off, Aggregators Rule
    No one can really keep track of all of this crap. FriendFeed, which does an admirable job of aggregating the river, will start to look more and more like outlook. You have to be able to take the information out of reverse chronological order if you want to do something with it. Once the short communique (tweet) flaws in accountability and distribution are fixed, Email will be on its last legs. Mine already is.
     
  8. All Business Models Fail Because They Involve The Use Of Relics
    We simply don't know how to think about this stuff yet. Inevitably, we wrap old ideas around our new experiences. Advertising is on its last legs. The most perfectly customized ad is the precise information I need. So, every aspect of mass distribution will be wrenched from the advertiser's hands. It's going to take a little whle for a groundbreaking community like ours to figure out how it pays for itself.
     
  9. The New Definition Of Friendship Starts To Emerge
    Lots of people are talking about the lack of nuance in the space between contact and friend. I think there is even more variance in the idea of "types of friends". You can jump start a strong relationship quickly with social media. There is no name for that. In the long haul, this is all about how we spend our attention. With a relatively finite quantity of attention to spend, prioritization will continuously try to be the issue.
     
  10. Slouching Will Be Ruled Unconstitutional in Two North American Countries
    Obviously, this is the most important trend. It's related to the legislation requiring mandatory jail time for 50 year old white men who make gang signs. Recruiters seen in black stocking caps (uh, how come I never got one?) will have 30% shaved off their fees. The next RBC fashion trend? Suits and paisley ties.

So, those are my ten. What do you think the next year will hold for the business, social media or RBC?

 

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RBC? One way I think we can judge our prioritization table is the order in what we visit in our daily rounds. RBC has moved to the top of my "visit/check/stay-a-while-cause-it's-so-intristing-in-here" places on my daily rounds of the Recruitosphere and I don't see that changing anytime soon unless someone makes some major changes in their delivery formats...

Business? Never ceases to amuse and those who can stay this coming course will never ever have to wonder again if they have what it takes to "go the distance."

Social media? I agree that it will continue to evolve and some will figger out the formula for making it pay. It's no secret in my book that the secret sauce is still tied to content and bright minds. Challenge will continue to be the gauntlet thrown.

Suits and paisley ties? What ever happened to pajamas and fuzzy slippers?
These are very interesting thoughts to ponder. 2009 is not here yet, but we can't help it ; to wonder what's going to happen. 2008 is not any year but a year of downward spiral into the unknown. We will all have to do what we need to survive which means we have to learn how to "let it go" of what we can't take with us. Remember, travel light and travel fast.

We will soon know who is our friends or just people passing throught the night.
We will soon find out what works and what doesn't.
We will soon know what we need to change or not change in the way we do business.
We will soon find out who we can partner up with for mutual benefits and who we have to let go off.

The Economic Climate- We will soon find out more about the haves and the have not.
We will soon find out if more of us will fall throught the crack during this crisis since we are interconnected.

For example; since people are not buying, this will put the manufacturing, distribution, and stores out of business which will put people out of jobs.

I think we have not bottom out yet but as the new year starts, news will always be bad. We need new leaderships and less greed. Those who are doing the right things are paying for those who did the wrong things whice means that life is always unfair.

The up side to this is that have to hold on to our dreams, and hold on to those peopel who we cherish.
We need to hold on to the community that support us and to those who will give us encouragement.
We all may have to tighten our belts on any expenses that doesn't give us any return on our investments.

Investments may be something we use to do and it's something that doesn't pay back.
Social media may be the new trend so people can be in touch, find information or just to know that there people of like minds.

For 2009, this will be like we are all blinded by the unknown and it's up to us to feel or find a way to get through it. It seems to me that when we think how bad we have it, there are people who are always one step behind us in a worst situation. When peope who are out there with no family or friends and sleeping in the streets or where ever they are, it makes me be thankful of what I have.

But if we think about it, how did the people survived the depression in the late 1920's? I'm sure it was bleak then and somehow peope survived.

I don't know how the recruiting industry will be in 2009. Companies that are surviving will still need people to do the work. They may have more candidates to choose from but they still need to weed through qualified ones versus the nonqualified. Those candidates who don't finds jobs will start their own company doing something that they have a passion with. As the big companies shrinks, you'll see more small companies grow.

For now, this is what's on my mind. I would welcome anyone else to agree or disagree with me.

Remember, I'm still a kid in my mind. I have lots to learn still. All I know is that there are people who will always be older or younger than me every year unless they are no longer with us.

I don't know about the dress code- it depends on what's on our back as we leave or come in.
Where do we come in 2009? It's a mystery for me at this time.

Oh how I wish I have a crystal ball, I would share the information with you.
For the over 40 set, the young 'uns too...


Oh, yeah..."the time is nigh."
John, thanks a ton for the post. Heady topics for heady times. I agree with a lot of what you have here and Maureen and Sally I think you are both on target.

I believe we are in for a difficult business climate for a very long time. We're in the early stages of unwinding a huge overleveraged bubble. But.....even though it seems like it at times, things don't go down in a straight line. We'll have mini recoveries followed by subsequent drops in overall conditions before we find the bottom. There are no bailouts for the recruiting industry so we are going through it the natural way.

While many got shaken out this year, more will be shaken out over the next few years. However, as companies pull back and re-evaluate they will still come back to the fact that they need to run their business and they need the right people. Those of us who "get it", who are honest, and work hard, and understand what it takes to find the right people and get things done will not only survive but will come out on the other side much stronger and with less competition. I see some signs of a mini recovery already, clients who froze everything creeping back into the market.

So here is my prediction.....2009 will be a better year than 2008. We will see some recovery and decent business conditions in the early part of the year. It won't be a rip roaring market, but better than the previous year. later in the year we'll see another dip and a difficult period, but not as bad as the last part of '08. I think the conditions of the last part of '08 are the worst we will see, but for a long time (5 to 10 years) we'll go through ups and downs in a generally more difficult business climate than we've seen in the past.

Social networking is here to stay and the weaker formats will disappear, but the stronger will thrive. E-mail is here to stay and it's purpose and value will just continue to evolve along with the other avenues of connection. It's still the greatest invention since the automobile.

Dress code?? Jeans and sweatshirts for the winter.
Very insightful John.

Watson Wyatt suggests number 1 might be right: more than one in five companies (23 percent) plan to make layoffs in the next 12 months, with almost two in five (39 percent) reporting that they have already done so. The expected layoff average is five percent.
The last time I aired predictions was here.

John, any time you write something I feel it is my duty to respond...

The Economic Climate and Recruiter Jobs

Companies who were too kind to do a holiday season layoff will clean house by mid month.

It’s PR not empathy.

Lots of recruiters will get dislocated next year - but that's because of the changes in recruiting, not the economy.

No lots of recruiters will be let go because they suck.

How Many Friends?

Keeping the personal and the professional distinct will be understood as a virtue.

And challenging because after years – or just sometimes months – professional turns personal. Isn’t this what life is about? Frankly I’m glad that you can’t separate the two John.

The Network Is Mine

As we say in New York (and I suppose elsewhere too), “It’s hard to remember you’re there to drain the swamp when you’re up to your ass in alligators.” One troubling trend I see beginning here on RBC is shameless self-promotion under the guise of being helpful. Take any discussion about Applicant Tracking Systems. Please.

I Own My Own Network

It's easy to imagine everyone having their own Ning account. Nice thought but have you noticed it’s the same group of people who always seem to drive content and community? Face it 84% of any population are average – or worse – and lurking is the name of their game. Still, the videos and pictures are fun to watch and the stories fun to read.

People Will Go Rafting In The Information River

Although Twitter is flawed, the phenomenon is not going away. RBC activities will decline as members try to deal with info flows from the 1,000 people they follow. Ultimately, the survivors will flourish by cruising the waves of information.

Dunno…perhaps algorithms will be codified to enable people to plow through the vast ocean of tweets and distill them into a “report” that can be viewed on a predefined basis. A little bit of neural networking, if you will.

Very strong social connections can be leveraged using Tweets.

I wouldn’t say “very strong” yet. With all the shortcuts to communicating eventually we may be looking at the decimation of the physical body leaving just the brains to communicate with each other. Shades of Star Trek…

Defriending

I have thousands of connections on LinkedIn. That makes it my own personal resume database. It also makes it unlikely that I will build warm relationships there. The one skill I like to teach younger recruiters is how to introduce themselves to people they don’t know as in “My name is Steve; what is yours?” I’m as techie as they come but there ain’t no warmth there!

Email Dies Quickly, Traffic Falls Off, Aggregators Rule

Once the short communique (tweet) flaws in accountability and distribution are fixed, Email will be on its last legs. Mine already is.

For some but not for most. Perhaps the delivery platform will change but just like newspapers, there will always be a core group of devotees who hold up the house.

All Business Models Fail Because They Involve The Use Of Relics

It’s about incremental development versus paradigm shifting. It’s near impossible to identify what these shifts may be because then they’d be part of some incremental development!

The New Definition Of Friendship Starts To Emerge

Dennis Smith will tell you this too: We were pretty good e-friends until we met at Kennedy’s Las Vegas show in 2007. Then it all changed for the better. e-Friends are nice to have but brick and mortar ones are better. Strive for reality as opposed to being bandwidth buddies.

Slouching Will Be Ruled Unconstitutional in Two North American Countries

I never made a gang sign. It was just a New York salute…

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