Social networking, for all the recent hype, is hardly a new concept.
One example from Mark Twain can be found in Two Little Tales, first published over 100 years ago. In the story, a man has an idea that will revolutionize the military, but feels lost because he doesn’t know the man who can implement his idea. The story tells of how the man works his relationships, starting with a customer in his shop who knows someone, who knows someone else, and so on all the way up to the military’s Director-General. The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon phenomenon illustrates this point in a more timely example, so perhaps I’m just dating myself.
People are using networking sites to get a glimpse into who’s working where and who’s hanging out where to get a sense if they, too, would like to do the same. So what do you do when you find where the cool people hang out? Get to them. Start making calls and work your way into the circle. But the time to do this is not when you’re in the breadline with them. The time is now.
Looking at the most recent networking numbers for Accolo’s Career Network, it seems to me that a lot of people get it. We closely track how many individuals register to be kept apprised of new opportunities as they open up. In Q1 of 2003, we saw a huge spike of registrants – almost 25% more than we saw in Q4 of 2008. People were proactively throwing their hat into the ring to try to stay ahead of fickle markets and (perhaps not so unexpected) downturns. The last quarter of 2002 was showing employment progress, and 2003 the same. The IT bubble was repairing itself; we were recovering from the 9/11 blow. Seeing that things were starting to clear and recognizing the value of the myriad social networking sites available at the time, numbers of registrants spiked preemptively against an uncertain employment future.
So what does this tell us about today and what we all need to be doing to ensure our own economic future? Do your research. Network with your friends and past colleagues – see who’s where and what they’re up to. Better yet, I’m calling for a national Take Your Recruiter to Lunch Day to get a feel for where the jobs are, what the companies are like, and where you might start poking around a little bit to find an opportunity that you hadn’t considered yet. Maybe somewhere deep in your experience there’s an idea that will revolutionize that company and make you a hero. Day by day, work your way through to the top. Twain would be proud.