Just a forewarning: I am about to ramble. I realize how important social networking is, whether you are looking for candidates, looking for job leads, or looking for a job yourself. It's important to build up your network, whether the need is immediate or not, so that when you have a fit of skill to job description--BOOM. You're a leg up on the competition.
However...building a social network is nervewrecking. Maybe it goes back to me being a social outcast most of my life but everytime I consider sending a friend request on facebook or an invite on LinkedIn, I feel like I am in high school again, walking up to a cafeteria table and without the people seated knowing anything about me and without me knowing anything about them and asking if I can sit down and then bracing myself for the response. Of course, in the world of professionals it's a little different because most people can see the value in getting to know new people but there have been instances where my requests are denied or never answered. Maybe it's the ole recruiter taboo, maybe people think I am going to make flyers of their resumes or I'm going to waste their time with jobs they aren't qualified for, or maybe they think recruiters still charge fees. I thought the days of recruiter misconceptions were over but I could be wrong. In any case, getting a request denied or having it go unanswered is akin to having the girl at the lunch table look at you and put her purse on the open seat next to her and say, "I'm sorry, I'm saving this seat for someone else." Someone much cooler. Someone not you.
Even worse are the people on social networking sites and even job boards that are so elite that they don't want to be contacted. They just want to put up their job performance history and accomplishments MINUS any contact information because they want to world to know they exist and they only want to be contacted by people they already know. I understand people have reasons to be confidential but then why put your info on a public site? What a let down when you find a great candidate you can never talk to. It's like being punched in the stomach by the Prom Queen.
Anyway, the point is that everyone should be open to new contacts--namely ME. You never know--I could be the chairman of the prom committee.