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.

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Comment by Charles Van Heerden on September 9, 2009 at 5:02am
Great points. I advise my coaching clients to rank their contacts:
email = 1 point
phone = 3 points
meeting = 5 points

Far too many contacts are superficial and there is no substitute for talking in person to someone!

Social networking is only the means to an end!
Comment by Jonathan Duarte on September 9, 2009 at 8:24am
Thanks for the post. I agree, but still think there is a lot missing. Just meeting and networking doesn't meet the objective. If the objective is a job, then the best way to find a job is through referrals. They are the number 1 source of hires, per Gerry and Mark at CareerXRoads.

The networking strategy should then be to find employees in the companies that you are interested in, and then network/ meet with them for an informational interview, to understand the company, the products, etc. Treat these target referrals well because they might be a referral into the job.
If the company sounds right for you, then ask the referral if their company offers a Referral Incentive program. If they do, not only are you helping the target referral, because now they might make some money for the 1 hour of time with you, but they know that you are looking out for them as well.
Then, and only then apply for the job through the referral.

Gerry and Mark's recent Source of Hire Study showed that 32% of the employers in the study stated they hired at least 1 in 4 referral candidates. There are a lot of reasons for this, but in my mind, there is no better way to find a job than through employee referrals.

Spend time on LinkedIn in order to find referrals for the jobs that you found on the job boards.
Comment by Marcia Bateman on September 9, 2009 at 1:05pm
Jason I think this is a GREAT post with some valid points. I often tell people the phone on your desk should not be an antique..
Comment by Jennifer on September 9, 2009 at 1:59pm
I have to disagree with this concept, especially when considering the Gen Y and younger population. As time moves forward their way of communicating will become more and more relevant to the success of our recruitment and hiring processes. For the average millenial, a phone conversation does not necessarily rate above a text or email conversation. In fact, if you try to call them they will not answer (perhaps because they are in the middle of something else) but if you reach out to them via text, email, facebook, etc you are much more likely to receive a response. I think it is innacurate to make a blanket statement that in person/phone conversations are more meaningful. Other factors have to be considered such as: the communication styles of the individuals having the conversation, their level of interest in the topic at hand, the content of the conversation, etc.
Comment by Jason Monastra on September 9, 2009 at 3:13pm
@ Jennifer
I must say I do not agree. I do understand what you are saying as the audience and who is involved dictates the media where that interaction occurs. However with listening and hearing so many of the 20 somethings and now my own children - they actually want to hear from people via phone or in person. They "manage" their relationships with a larger group over txt, facebook and the like. But their closest friends are the ones that are meeting in person, speaking via phone, etc.

As a service provider, I want my clients picking up the phone. Like you said they are doing a lot of other things. If when I call - they answer - you know the relationship has risen to the level you require to conduct your business the right way.
Comment by Jimmy Roa on September 9, 2009 at 11:45pm
Social networking is a means to an end. The end being able to create meaningful relationships. I think it's a great tool for recruiters. It gives us access to people. The hard part is really developing the relationship.
Comment by Jason Monastra on September 9, 2009 at 11:58pm
@ Jamie
I totally agree with you. Developing the relationships however I do not think is as difficult as everyone thinks. The issue however has been the focus of social media and the connecting of people. It has become inherent with these media types that relationships are not developed but established. That being said they offer a tremendous medium in which to connect to people outside the area or otherwise impossible connections due to time/geography, etc. The pure use of the net for these connections makes them more time effecient than older forms of networking. However, to establish and as you say, develop them, a phone call and in person meeting does so in a way that social networking can never duplicate.


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