Social Networking, Deal with It: Your Livelihood May Depend on It

By Dr. Kirk Hallowell

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

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While people under 35 seem to be taking the world’s transformation to social networking in stride, I am finding a trend of indifference or even resentment toward social networking among my fellow Baby Boomer Generation business leaders.

These are the kind of comments I’ve heard:

“Oh, this is just a fad – remember all those Internet startups in the 90s?”

“Facebook, that’s just for kids and people who have too much time.”

“All social networking is about is letting people know where you ate dinner last night and what you thought of the restaurant.”

Developing an Active Connection

For many of these leaders, there are more than enough things to worry about in their day-to-day work life, and building out a social network just doesn’t seem like a priority. And indeed, it may not be a priority- until you consider a job transition:

  • The average tenure for a mid-to senior-level position now is under four years.
  • The rate of mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations is picking up pace with the economy.
  • The job market is “thawing out,” with some remarkable opportunities for talented leaders who may have been “hunkered down” in a job or company they don’t like.

With these trends in mind, maintain a healthy appreciation for strategies to build your career opportunities. Building a social network is not the same as “being in the job market.” It is not about being disloyal or unappreciative of your current employer.

It simply means you are developing an active connection to your professional network. You are always looking for opportunities for a competitive advantage for your business, why would you not do the same for your career?

Job Sourcing Has Changed: Forever

The reason why social networking is so crucial to your career is that the job-sourcing model that drives employment has fundamentally changed and continues to change at a remarkable rate.

  • The number of jobs sourced and filled through job boards and direct applications has declined steadily for the last five years is now under 20%.
  • The number of jobs sourced through networking has increased steadily and now accounts for over 80% of job placements.
  • Between 60-80% of positions filled are never listed! The only way you would ever know about these “hidden” jobs is through networking.
  • There is a recruiting technology, “gold rush,” driving job sourcing that is increasingly focused on data mining of social networking sites to identify qualified candidates.

All indications are that these trends will continue. The probability of you finding your next job opportunity may depend on social networking.

The traditional resume and cover letter are becoming things of the past, being replaced daily by e-mails, networking calls, and scans of LinkedIn profiles.

Your Job Search and the Time Value of Money

A fundamental principle of economics is “the time value of money.” This simply means that the sooner a business transaction produces profit, the better. This fundamental principle drives all strategic planning and investments in the business.

It should be a core driver of your career strategy as well.  It takes time and effort to build an effective, high-quality social network. If you begin this process the day you lose your job or decide to start looking, you have significantly delayed your potential return on the time value of money.

Building a social network is parallel to getting in shape. It takes 3 to 6 months of consistent effort, including 1 to 3 hours of work each week, to build a vibrant and growing social network.

Building an online profile and presence is not like writing your resume. It is not something that you do once and leaves alone.  Just as with an exercise routine, you must maintain, update, and grow your profile if it is to have any impact or add value.

Let’s break the potential financial impact of proactively building your social network down to real dollars. If you make $150,000 per year with the 30% benefits package and a 10% bonus structure, you are bringing in total compensation of approximately $17,500 per month.

If you begin the process of social networking the day you need to replace that income, it could easily take you an additional 30-60 days to get up to speed.  That is a high cost. It is a far better investment to spend a little time each week building career insurance.

Getting Started Is Easy

Some business leaders are skeptical or uneasy about starting a social networking regimen. In most of these cases, it is because these individuals have not tried it and have stuck with the process long enough to see the value. Those who are committed to the process see results and appreciate the investment.

LinkedIn is a great place to start and continues to pull away as the primary web connection for business networking and corporate recruiting.

Building out a LinkedIn profile and growing your network requires no more initial effort than updating your resume.  In fact, it is better to work on your professional social network over time, as your updates attract interest and attention.

Three Suggestions for Getting Started

  • If you are new to LinkedIn, the service is remarkably easy (and free) as the online instructions lead you through each phase of the profile-building process. Simply navigate to and follow the “create account” link.
  • There are many ways to approach profile-building. The best way to get started is to look at 15 to 20 profiles of individuals of your management level in related industries. Keep track of what stands out to you and fits with your professional style. Borrow shamelessly.
  • Build your connections wisely. You may be tempted to get as many connections as possible. Remember that quality is always better than quantity.

So, if you have been reluctant to jump on the social networking bandwagon, deal with it. Your livelihood may depend on it.

Kirk’s book, The Million-Dollar Race: An Insider’s Guide to Winning the Job of Your Dreams, is available on

How Are You Building Your Social Network?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Dr. Kirk Hallowell
Dr. Kirk Hallowell
Kirk is the author of, The Million-Dollar Race: An Insider’s Guide to Winning the Job of Your Dreams, to be published by Greenleaf Book Group the end of 2012. Kirk is President of MatchPoint Learning & Development.
  • vince p mayne says:

    I agree with you on the time it takes to build and maintain a network.

    Linkedin appears to offer the most benefits since it is structured to generate connections for employment opportunities. Facebook and Twitter are less structured in this area and more difficult to generate the same outcomes.

  • Annie Abrams says:

    For 24 years, I’ve sold high volume, high dollar consulting solutions and I’ve participated in the ebb and flow of “the best way to sell practices” over the years. The hardest part of selling high ticket B2B solutions is making the right connections – Linkedin has made this challenge a thing of the past! While I’ve always loved my job, Linkedin adds a whole new dimension, especially with the applications available. I was a skeptic, I will admit but I was won over when I started seeing the results! I can’t imagine life without it!

  • Annie,

    Great to hear. Can you offer one technique that you find particularly useful in building your network?

    Thanks, Kirk

  • Larry Levenson says:

    Kirk, I think you’re right on! As the owner of an inbound marketing agency, I speak with me age-peers (50’s) every day, and many still refuse to get with the social media program. Most, however, and now curious about how it could help their business and who would “run it for them”.

    Doing a lot of work in that social space, I think the differences among platforms is really interesting, hence my post on Lead Generation with LinkedIN 277% More Effective than Facebook or Twitter.

    Each social media platform has its place, and one can choose the platforms to use based on what you want to accomplish. Right now, 83% of Pinterest users are women, so if I wanted to reach woman, I
    d sure investigate that opportunity! Great post. Thanks!

  • VINCE P MAYNE says:

    The critical success factor appears to be centered around building the prospect list and executing using these techniques.

  • Laura Hobson says:

    Social networking is here to stay. It pays to take advantage of it. You never know what will happen. Build slowly and wisely. Continue to add contacts. Publish your activities on LinkedIn.

  • John E. Smith says:

    nteresting article and some rational thinking about how to best use online media.

    My personal opinion is that, whatever platforms you engage with, regardless of their purpose, act like you are under a spotlight, on stage, and selling yourself … simply because it is the truth.

    For example, Facebook contains much that is of no value to a person’s career and much that is downright damaging to that career. However, it also contains a less formal and more energetic environment than LinkedIn.

    Think of it this way: LinkedIn is definitely the workplace. Facebook is more like the company picnic. No matter where you are, others are watching and evaluating your behavior and words. Opportunities for professional growth exist in many places, but it’s never OK to make fun of the boss in public.

    Simple rules, but they keep one out of trouble:)

    John (also posted to LI)

  • Kirk Hallowell says:

    John, I agree. LinkedIn=business, Facebook =monkey business.

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