I recently attended a conferencethat discussed the pros and cons of technology to my work. A consistent topic of discussion was how virtual communications such as e-mail and social networking help or hinder face-to-face communication. People had varying opinions, but it was clear that people didn’t expect these virtual forms of communication to become less popular or cease to be used. What was clear was that people needed to remain conscious of their choices regarding the use of technology.
Then I saw an article on CNN about a guy who was laid off from AIG and used his social networking skills to start his own company to help people find jobs. Intrigued, I wasn’t sure what made this new job site better than a site like Monsteror TheLadders. This site is designed around social networking. For example, he has a Facebook page inviting people to his Pink Slip Party where employers and employees can network together about everything job related. This seems like a point in favor of using virtual communications.
Then I saw another article on CNNwhere a recent University graduate used all of the communication resources the Internet has to offer to try and find a job (hiring new graduates is down about 20% from last year). He ended up with such a diffuse approach he got no return.He ended up focusing his search, tailoring his cover letters, and holding practice interviews to land a job. In this case using social networking does not seem to be as effective. Now what do we do?
If you own a business or manage projects, technology is likely one of the most cost-effective ways to market and evaluate your business, but you have to use the technology consciously. Just like email can lead to spam, social networking sites can lead to people posting everything from what they ate for breakfast to truly interesting stories and insights. Think about your social network as having different constituents in it. For example, Facebook is where I mostly connect with friends. They are more likely to care about what state I’m in, what I saw on my morning bike ride, or how I feel about the weather. Linked in and twitter are reserved for business contacts (and friends). I use these sites to communicate information that is more useful, such as links to new blogs like this one, information about interesting books or articles I’ve read, or updates on conferences I’m attending.
So choose your social networking mediums carefully, and develop a strategy for how you use them. They can create great value for very little money, but the effort is still needed to keep you from becoming a social network spammer.