Are You OVERLY Social-Networked?

As more and more job seekers turn to social and professional networking websites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to expand their sphere of potential career-aiding contacts, blogger Tim Bursch suggests that maybe it’s time to start ignoring these networks.

While the Bursch post was written more from a marketing/customer relationship standpoint, the general theme is certainly applicable to job seekers. The point of the piece is that it is easy to get so carried away with the number of networking groups one joins that soon it becomes impossible to maintain meaningful and effective relations with any of them.

Here are the four reasons Bursch gave to start ignoring networks:

1. If you try to be everywhere, you end up really being nowhere. You spend a little time on a lot of networks and end up diluting your brand.
2. Relationships. If you don’t really invest time in one community you will probably only have transactions, instead of long-term relationships.
3. It’s about them. Your fans want to interact and it is about them. So, focus on them well.
4. You can’t please everyone. Some people will be missed. If you have something remarkable, people will find you.

There is a growing risk of spreading oneself too thinly among the expanding number of networking sites for job seekers. While LinkedIn in was once the go-to site, people are dedicating more time to using all of their networks – Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. – for job-search outreach. Additionally, new sites such as KODA.us and the invitation-only Doostang.com appear to be popping up daily.

Bursch’s rules of the marketing-oriented network can be easily adapted for the job seeker. As a job seeker, you are the marketing professional as well as the product. So, the same guidelines can govern your actions as you build your brand among prospective employers.

We would include at least one additional rule: Don’t spend so much time attending to your virtual networks that you neglect your real-world networks.

The Internet has been a boon to job seekers, but it has also become a significant crutch in that it gives a false sense of conducting an “active” job search, even though it is quite “passive.” One feels a great sense of accomplishment after spending five hours a day combing through online job ads and interacting with various networks. Unfortunately, these efforts alone, while necessary, are unlikely to result in much job search success.

Too many job seekers, however, fall into the Internet trap where rejection is easier to accept, whether it’s in the form of an unanswered job application or a networking connection who cannot offer any help.

The active job seeker, on the other hand, is talking to hiring managers on the phone, meeting with people who can help with the job search, and making the effort to go out and find the hidden, unadvertised job opportunities, which account for the vast majority of potential openings. This person is far more exposed to the constant rejection that is the nature of all job searches.

Just as sending out 50 resumes in response to online job ads can feel like the accomplishments of an active job search, maintaining a constant flow of status updates and emails to contacts can make one feel like he or she is a master of networking. However, these activities cannot replace the face-to-face interactions that are critical to building meaningful relationships that will help you achieve your career goals.

2 thoughts on “Are You OVERLY Social-Networked?

  1. I disagree with Bursch. Bursch is speaking for the perspective of a social media user who is inexperienced at posting relevant or meaningful posts. If you have no idea what you are doing on Twitter or let's say, Facebook, you could end up damaging your reputation beyond repair. Especially if you are trying to get a job or in the process of getting interviewed. I mostly disagree with Bursch because I have had great luck on Twitter gaining new clients and actually building connections with other moving companies. I have gained more than I have lost from Twitter. Also, recently my daughter was hired as a writer for a prominent magazine because of Twitter. I think that is pretty remarkable! If she had not had an active Twitter account, she never would have been recognized by her current employer's. I do agree with Bursch that some people post ridiculous things on the internet, that perhaps they should save for a less than public arena. There are ways to limit these postings from being seen by just anyone however. For example, you can make your Facebook profile private and you can even put people on limited profile who you "have" to be friends with, so that thy can't see your pictures or your wall posts. On Twitter, I would recommend making your account "protected" (locked from the view of non friends) until you clean up your tweets. I would probably guess Bursch is in his 40's. As I am. A lot of our generation is heavily against social media of any kind. Embrace it. It is not going away.

  2. Agreed. Challenger coaches tell clients that social media is an incredibly invaluable tool in the job search, but as you say, you must learn how to use the tool first.

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