Everywhere I turn I cannot get away from the ever evolving trend of the social networking process for job searches. Countless comments and posts speaking to the rage and what it does for recruiters and job seekers. The issue I keep finding myself looking at is the lack of a detailed strategy. How do you leverage these networks? What is the best way to connect and get tied into a company you want to work for? What if you do not have a job - how do you use these tools to land your next position? These are open ended and often unanswered questions in the search process.
I want to take a different look at LinkedIn. The most successful of the business networking platforms, LinkedIn ties you into people of the past and present leveraging college and business similarities to ensure you stay up with the people you need to. But how does that transform into a solid business network? Honestly - it does not. Just like with any database or pile of information - it is only as good as the person utilizing it and this is where I think a great deal of people miss the point. People think more contacts, more information, more networks - that is the answer. Wrong the answer is using the contacts and leveraging your network for the objective. That is where most fail.
SO HOW DO YOU DO THAT? Well it is a good deal more than simply asking someone to connect that you used to work with! That is what most people do, they make the easy connection but with no depth. People will pretty much connect to anyone in LinkedIn if there is a reasonable reason to do so. But how do you get that person to do something for you - well that requires time. I counsel people to reach out via phone! Yes the long lost art of the phone - actually speaking to someone vs. IM or text or email. The phone brings a much more personal approach than most are accustomed to. Speaking to someone increases the depth of the relationship, transforming the person from a contact to part of your living network. Where from here you ask?
In person meetings!! Do people even do these anymore? I speak to clients all the time that have not met anyone in their network for some time. Well how does that help you - bottom line not only does not help, but it hurts you. It causes you to become one of those cyber folks that people frankly cannot do business with. As technology increases, personal relationships decrease. However how people interact with others has never changed - why people do what they do? In person meetings change the landscape more than any other fact of the job search. Taking people to lunch, sitting down for a cup of coffee goes a mile. Sending an email - anyone can do that. People of influence get constant requests for people to help them. So if you send an email, you are the same as everyone else.
Take social networking for what it is…simply put a quick aggregator of your friends so you can share information easier. It does not actually replace the art of developing those relationships at work. The in person touch is still required, probably even more so than ever to ensure that the people that are in your network remember you and will help when things like looking for a job are needed.