Modern connectivity There was a time probably no more than 5 years ago, when I could do my job very effectively by going into my contact data base and simply picking up the phone. Those days are gone. In 2008, as world markets crashed taking many global businesses with them, millions lost their jobs and disappeared into the ether of unemployment. If, and when they resurfaced they were difficult to reach. The foundations of the way most of us did business crumbled beneath us, as we tried to find new ways to stay connected.
At the same time we saw a dramatic upturn in the use of social media, which heralded a new era for business generally and became especially valuable in the executive search and hiring process. Early adopters got a head start. Now it is less ” I think therefore I exist” but more ” I link therefore I exist”. We are in an age of super connectivity.
Many column inches have been written about online connections. The quality vs quantity discussion rages unabated and I’m not even going to get into that one. My simple point is that unless you are a high-ranking executive in publically registered company, or some sort of super star, with acres of media coverage to your name, and land a first page Google ranking (for positive reasons!), an online professional profile or other virtual presence, which benefits you professionally, is a must. For the average, mere job seeking mortal, the failure to have an online professional identity, while possibly not total career hari kari, will be tantamount to jumping into the Google pool with lead weights on your ankles. You will simply sink into oblivion.
What to do?
- Get going! Create an online professional presence: this enables you to be found not just by search specialists and hiring managers but anyone who wishes to locate you or your professional expertise. This will vary from one country to another. The strongest global English-speaking platform is LinkedIn. Other platforms such as Viadeo or Xing also carry traction in different geographic areas. The 3 demographics most reluctant to do this in my experience are entry-level, women and Boomers. This one simple process shows you care and are switched on!
- Complete the profile fully and strategically: using strong key search words. Generally I find the people who get most frustrated (and whinge the loudest) with a tendency to blame other external factors, are the ones who have the weakest profiles and fewest connections.
- Connect and engage strategically: build up your professional network, establish relationships, generate credibility in your industry or sector. Set up an online trail of links to you! You can’t tap into your network unless you have one. Reluctant categories in my experience are: entry-level and women
- Manage your reputation: leverage social media to cement the professional you. Use key words in your other online profiles and even a link to your online CV or LinkedIn profile. Entry level, women and Boomers are the equally reluctant to do this. Social media is no longer just social, but has a professional component too. That’s why it’s called Personal Branding. Change your privacy settings if this really bothers you.
- Don’t neglect other personal networks: there is tendency with social media pundits to drink their own Kool Aid and believe their own hype, that these platforms are the “one- stop- shop” solution. No matter what, you have to get out from behind the computer and network personally! An online professional presence is only one tool in a much bigger job search tool kit. Category most reluctant to do this – women and entry-level.
As we teeter yet again on the brink of a possible financial services meltdown, with Greece clinging to the edge of the Acropolis by its fingernails, those without professional online “links” will almost certainly be caught at a disadvantage. There is even in my anecdotal experience, an emerging pattern of which demographics are constantly at risk.
Regrettably we have to do more than “think” to exist today. We have to “link“.
Quite right – I am hearing via social media from clients and friends who have changed names (the women), moved, changed jobs. There is no other way we could find each other.
Thanks Annabel – social media and professional platforms provide great oportunities for keeping in touch with the career changes of people in your network. It’s also a good way to stay connected and send messages rather than a call via a company switch board which is sometimes not easy or even appropriate.
Brilliant Dorothy! Have just sent the link to your blog
to a male client of mine who needs the message…
Do you find the guys are less comfortable at
initiating a social media life than women who
score higher on things like communication
Hi Sharon – thanks for passingf on my post to your client. Hope he finds it helpful I find that men in certain demographics are reluctant to use professional platforms but not more so than women.
Men tend to be less inclined to use social media for being” social”, while women are less inclined to use social media transacationally for professional purposes.
How sad it is. People are missing out on such a lot. It is a great way to build a professional network and to supplement non-virtual professional networks. I can now access advice from around globe and, some of it from leading experts, at the touch of a button. On top of that I’ve made some brilliant chums! Yes you do need to have regard to the risks: they are somewhat different to the off-line world but quite manageable!
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Way to hit the nail on the head, Dorothy. I like how you broke down the practical reasons to create an online profile, while some people just say, “Give up and join the band wagon because everyone else is.”
Side note: as a vocabulary nerd, kudos for using “tantamount”!
Hi Andrea – thanks for your comment. Yep I’m a bit of a word nerd myself!