If your like me you have an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Twhirl, TalentBar, RecruitingBlogs, WirelessJobs, Plaxo, Jobirn, Doostang, Jobthread, Spoke, Naymz, and RecruiterRockstar. Those are just the websites, my membership in user groups probably doubles that. Logging into each and every one of these sites could be a full time job. True relationship building gets lost in an effort to be the most connected.
Is it quality or quantity we are after? Or both? I am always on the look out for tools that can help me access more than one site at once. For instance I can log into Facebook and get a feed of my twitter information. I can follow my RecruitingBlogs and TalentBar contacts on Twhirl and see what they are up to with much less effort than it takes to view their individual profiles on a web site and look for updates. For a recruiting department to best leverage the vast social networks available, serious time and investment needs to be made into merging company knowledge with individuals networking ability. I recently attended a webinar titled "Integrating Social Networks into the Business" that was very encouraging. Its core point was how to merge all information and tribal knowledge and make it as easily accessible.
Access to information from a recruiters standpoint should not be to data mine, rather to develop deep relationships. Sometimes an introduction is all I need to get my foot in the door, but I might not ever get that introduction if my co-worker doesn't offer it up, or I don't happen to notice they are connected on LinkedIn. A platform similar to what Xobni does for Outlook would be tremendous if it could be applied to someone's online profiles.
My ultimate goal is to have a virtual network of those who follow me across a wide spectrum of social networking sites and vice versa. When the time comes we could do business together we can pick up our face to face conversation as if we were old friends. Should the business never develop then I have made a new friend who I am able to share information with and mutually help each other gain knowledge. The tech world is small, its much better to have friends than enemies.
PS: If someone politely asks to network with you on LinkedIn and you are not interested, simply do not reply and archive the message. Do not hit "Don't know." It’s a "ding" against your profile and 5 dings will kick you off. I understand people add to their contacts with a wide range of how they actually know the person, but there is no need to tattle.