Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Online Recruiting Grows Up?

It seems that articles about sites that are into electronic networking are running second only to stories about oil, Iraq and hurricanes. They are all over the place. One that caught my eye recently appeared on New York Newsday's website written by Patricia Kitchen and entitled: Online Recruiting Grows Up.

The article talks about a number of the services that have surfaced over the past year or so that come at the whole concept of recruiting and how it ties into networking from a number of different angles and probably more importantly, by degrees. There seems to be a service that looks to cover everything from one degree to six.

The technology that we now have at our collective disposal really is mind-boggling to say the least and, I have to admit, lots of fun. The name that has been given to most of these "linking" services pretty much falls under the heading of "social networks." That is a pretty broad term, and maybe misleading when it comes to career management. It may give people the impression that the kind of linkages that I can gain through an electronic network all of a sudden becomes the "universal solvent" for job changing. That feels like wishful thinking – or linking -- to me.

While I am more than willing to share all kinds of information with people that I know, or for that matter, even know well, the number of times that I would cash in a "connection" chit by picking up the phone and calling someone with whom it has taken me many, many years to build a relationship with is quite another matter.

I don't think there is any question that the technology we have at our fingertips has made research on any number of levels much easier, and that goes for connecting or re-connecting with friends, former colleagues, ex-wives or whatever, but when it comes to managing one’s career, we need to keep some things in perspective. What we have are any number of wonderfully cool "enablers," but there is a big difference between something that enables or facilitates a connection and the building of a real relationship that is based on trust. That, it seems to me, still takes lots of time, and preferably face-time.

I am not saying that "networking" is not important, particularly when one is either in or looking in the world of executive jobs. Indeed, just the reverse. At ExecuNet we think it’s not only important, we think it is critical. That being said, we also believe that real "networking" is about the building of relationships that start with one degree introductions, be they face-to-face, as we do at our various networking meetings around the U.S. and Canada or via the electronic networking a member can do in the course of trying to help someone else by sharing ideas, experiences, leads, or ideas.

No matter how one facilitates the connection, I still think that Dale Carnegie had it right when he said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can win in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."

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