By Bill Boorman
It’s not who or what you are.
In the old days, in the years labeled P.S. (pre-social), targeting contacts was pretty simple. People were either potential candidates or potential candidates, and this was determined by what their job title said they did, or the company they worked for. As a recruiter, I spent hours trying to identify what people did, in order to devote my time to the most obvious targets. I only wanted to dedicate my time to talking to people who may be of some obvious use.
Then the good folks in San Francisco called LinkedIn made my life even easier by launching a searchable online listing of professional details, and their network never stopped growing at an exponential rate. Now I could identify exactly who was who, and the equivalent of their C.V. was there for me to see. No need for further lengthy research, it was all laid out for me in a public place, at no cost. Problem was, it was there for every other recruiter as well.
As the other social networks evolved, from Facebook to Twitter, people connected. Geography or profession was replaced with a list of other reasons for people to connect. Some shared an interest or a passion, others just enjoyed hanging out, but people connected and networks got bigger and wider. It was no longer a concern that we had nothing in common professionally, or that you were in New York while I was in London. We connected in numbers because we wanted to, not because of any special agenda.
For me, Twitter was the big game changer to how and why people connected, because no invitation was necessary. I could follow who I wanted, when I wanted, and could communicate with them at any time. The walls came down, and the wise recruiters have learned to follow suit. Your value really lies in who you are connected to and who you can reach, and this is not immediately obvious from your bio, profile or location. Hence, people are connected and trusted.
This is why my advice is just to connect, and that bigger actually is better. You can organize all your connections through tagging in a whole host of ways, but reach is not immediately obvious. Make connecting part of your everyday activity. Look for interesting groups, conversations or content, comment and connect. Make connecting an objective with everyone you come into contact with, and make connecting with you very easy by putting up public invitations and adding all your accounts to all your public places.
What I have learned is that the reach I need to find who I want is in my network, and I only have to ask. I earn the right to ask by being equally available to help when asked in return, regardless of any obvious commercial benefit. Get connected with people, not targets, and you will have all the contacts you need.
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