Wasted Networking

Among the additions to a job seeker’s toolbox has been the addition of electronic social networking.  Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and other tools have proven invaluable to people looking to expand their network and the reach of their searches.  Being able to maintain contact with long known associates, the ability to reach out to those who you haven’t heard from in a while, and researching contacts at the companies that interest you can improve your chances of landing the job.
However there is a trend emerging that ruins the effectiveness of these tools.  There appears to be an increase in the number of people who register for these sites but do not complete their profiles, or turn off the features that allow them to be contacted.  Of course not all those who don’t post their contact info are job seekers, some of them are professionals with long industry experience.  So what’s the point of registering for these sites and including nothing of value about your work history or preferred method of contact?  Surely not all of these people are professional hermits.
Without question, I certainly understand and respect the need to protect one’s privacy!!  Understandably, many people choose to not post photos of themselves.  I get that!  In fact, I encourage you protect your privacy!  And I encourage you to be vigilant about protecting yourself with all your off- and online activities!!  But there are ways to limit the amount of information seen by others, tools provided by each site, as well as using common sense, that allows you to protect your privacy while safely allowing those within your professional community to identify you and make contact with you.
But for job seekers, or those with long-standing professions, is there anything to be gained by listing yourself but not including anything about your background, revealing little or no professional experience, and rejecting ways for others to contact you?
I’m sure there are many who prefer not to be bothered by people mining others’ profiles for networking contacts.  In fact, this is a practice I frown upon; one shouldn’t make direct contact with strangers on social networking sites without some kind of introduction or referral!
But if you’re a regular user of these professional networking sites, you’ve seen the section that says “People You May Know” or something similar.  And on occasion, you’ll see a familiar name, click on their link and discover that person provided nothing substantial or particularly informative about their career or history, sometimes making it difficult to confirm if the name belongs to someone you actually know or not.  These sites provide little benefit – to job seekers or their registrants – if they aren’t used as they were intended.
As a job seeker, to get the best use from professional networking sites, fill out your own profile and provide a concise synopsis of your work history and background, similar to a resume, but brief and tightly focused.  Use the “Find People In Your Network” features to see who among your network is also registered on that site and invite them to join your network.  Ask those in your network for referrals!!  And if people in your network can verify the quality of your work or your experience, get professional recommendations about your work from others in your field.  Politely and respectfully solicit recommendations in a private email.  It is important that they are relevant to what you currently want to do!  Kind words about work you did 20 years ago are nice, but irrelevant if you’re not still doing that kind of work.  The better sites have FAQ pages that provide tips on how to optimize their use for real professional growth, some even aimed at specific careers! I encourage you to look them over, and see how you can apply these ideas to your own career development.
The tried and true methods of networking and job search may still effective, but as times change, so must the ways job seekers and careerists market themselves because that’s what the market demands.  It’s easy to say, “I have a job; why do I need to put it all out there?”  The simple answer:  Because you just never know what tomorrow might bring.
Hopefully the New Year brings you and yours Health, Happiness, and of course Job and Career Security.    Wishing all a safe and prosperous 2011.
And for more tips and ideas about job search, getting hired, and staying hired, please search this blog and visit:  hanklondon.com