I recently had a couple 1st degree LinkedIn contacts of mine ask why I would want so many contacts? I researched these persons to find out who they were and then thought about it a bit reflecting on my mental notes as an executive recruiter and came up with the following.
Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Next & Digital Natives, each have a philosophy on social networking sites (SNS) ranging form “I was born yesterday and my mom already created my Facebook page” to “what is Social Networking.” The latter, mostly Boomers and folks living in internetless trailer parks in San Bernardino, are the ones who I see resisting technology and ultimately suffering, when they don’t take the time to understand not just technology trends, but social and cultural trends, like Social Networking which I dare say is here to stay, …at least until the next technology comes along.
I recently put a post up on LinkedIn touting that I finally reached over 3000 direct connections not as much as some, but more than most, impressive, you decide. From my research, the best estimates indicate that the average user on LinkedIn has somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 connections. I think this number would be less if not skewed by folks like me who push up the median, I believe the mean might be lower. These 3000 connections give me access to over 15 million contacts. In my line of work this type of network is invaluable thus the more the merrier.
Let me explain, one must first UNDERSTAND the dynamics of Social Networking and the various mediums which exist to Social Network; next one needs to have a PLAN in which to execute contacting the network one is utilizing; and finally one needs to know how to USE Social Networking (each medium being different). LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter all have different objectives and are about as similar as a Hammer is to a Screwdriver is to a Wrench; all tools used to fix household problems, but not the same problem.
In essence, if one seeks to find and have the ability to locate as many people as one wishes, say if one were an headhunter, or maybe a bounty hunter I suppose, quality is rewarded 100% of the time by quantity on a site like LinkedIn. How? Lets say I want to locate a Vice President for and Mutual Fund company and I was 1st degree connected with John Schmitz, whom I do not know, who is in Compliance at a Mutual Fund company I want to source from, I can simply introduce myself to John and network with him to find the lead I want. Now lets say John, like myself is well connected on LinkedIn, there is a better chance that John is directly connected to the individual I want to find. I simply have to search his connections or just do a search to find 2nd degree connections. Hence the more connections I have the better my chances of finding more qualified individuals, and I do not even have to contact my 1st degree connections in most cases.
You might ask yourself well what if I’m not a headhunter, why would I want such a large network? First off I’d say, why even have an account at all, the point of Social Networking is to (ready for this) ...NETWORK. One doesn’t typically network only with individuals one already knows.
Next let’s say you were/are a victim of the 2008/9 market downsizing and you have to find a job. Where do you go, what do you do? I would argue that most “employable” people haven’t had to look for a job in at least the last 5 years …safe to say, agree? If beyond 5 years my point is even more valid, because who heard of Social Networking before then. Where would you start? I suspect some Baby Boomers would pick up a newspaper, or maybe the $10M ads of the fuzzy monster running across the screen on Super Bowl Sunday worked and one begins by logging on to a job board. But anyone who has looked for a job in recent times knows this is about as useful as doing nothing at all, you’d be better off to go work on your handicap.
Lets say after a few months of manually tapping your personal network (AKA bugging your friends till you are no longer invited over for weekend barbecues) of the couple hundred industry contacts you ALREADY KNOW, you find out that there really isn’t anything out there, but you heard about this things called Social Networking. So you check out a site like LinkedIn and you create an account. Now what do you do? Do you just wait for someone to find you? Or do you just network with people you already know, we’ll you’ve already seen that movie and you know how that ends; so the answer is “NO” you don’t; you network with as many people as you can. Why? So you can FIND the people you want to play with. And, the more people you are connected with better your chances are of being FOUND. Social Networking works in both directions. So back to my 3000 contacts, I have access to 15 million contacts, …and 15 million people have access TO ME!
Now if I wanted to show off my kids surfing in Maui this summer, then I’d utilize a site like Facebook and connect with friends and family, and chances are professional contacts would have little reason to want be connected, as I’m sure most would want to see my kids as much as I want to see theirs. Really, it just depends on what you want out of a SNS. I choose to use LinkedIn for my professional SNS and I will connect with most anyone if it will increase my network. For personal connections I use Facebook, this still allows for ANYONE to find me who might look there but only allows friends and family to view my personal photos and personal rants and raves (I have the security settings set this way). If a professional contact is looking for me there, they will find me, and I simply direct them to my LinkedIn account.
Sooooo, what does all this jawjacking mean? In the last half dozen years or so, networking, finding people, looking for job/career change, and looking to be found, has changed significantly. The way we communicate with each other personally and professionally has evolved. If you want to be able to find and be found, you must open yourself up to social networking and moreover connecting with as many people as you can on the professional SNS.
If you have any questions on this or about social networking please drop me an email at ktp_blog @ ktpsearch.com
Written By: Tarin R. Yankovich, CPC
Copyright © 2010
Tarin Yankovich is the Founder and President of KTP Executive Search Group, Inc. based in Los Angeles California. KTP is a Talent Acquisition firm specializing in placing financial services executives across the United States.