It might sound surprising to those who think social media is revolutionary, but if social media does anything, it reinforces the very traditional notion that there really is nothing “new” under the sun. In fact, social media is built on the backs of old-fashioned networking and communication. It just speeds up and opens up the process in a very cool way.
Once you understand that, that social media is just a tool that enhances on all those professional networking axioms you grew up hearing, such as “it’s not what you know but who you know,” “a good name is better than riches,” and “find common ground,” you might even realize that social media could actually be better suited for the more experienced rather than the inexperienced.
The reason? Because experienced professionals tend to better recognize the value of an introduction, especially a strategic one (or at least they should). More inexperienced workers might “get” that in theory, but they haven’t necessarily lived it yet. (They still tend to believe that success lies in the number of credentials you have.)
Also, although most experienced professionals are hungry to network, they don’t have a ton of time to do it, very few are comfortable on a face-to-face level, and most would rather have a strategic introduction than sit through a mixer trying to figure out whom they should meet.
They recognize that it is not just about “meeting” people; instead they want to find a way to get in front of those who can be most influential to their careers: their target audience.
They also recognize that isn’t just about politicking or moving and shaking. It isn’t just about numbers (although like it or not, these do play a part in all professional networking).
No…it’s about getting out of the endless networking loop and getting introduced to those who can see you as an individual, not as one of the masses coming across their desk.
It’s where I think LinkedIn is most valuable, and it is where it is most underused, especially by experienced professionals.
Why? Because, unfortunately, social media has this tendency to be perceived as something for the inexperienced, “younger” professional who is more “savvy” with it.
But as my teams at ITtechExec and NoddlePlace have found over the last couple years, social media and LinkedIn in particular offer a great deal of untapped potential for all professionals, including the experienced professional if you understand the true value of an introduction.
To prove our point, we began building a strategic network of IT/technical leadership professionals mostly on LinkedIn, and we then started leveraging this network to make introductions for our client members. All we had to do was reach out across social media, engage in conversations with our target audience, and then make strategic introductions.
And the impact has been even more valuable than any of us could have expected.
Recently, we had an opportunity to work with Allison, who has been targeting the Healthcare IT sector, where she wants to break into. Although she is a more experienced professional, she came to us with virtually no LinkedIn network to speak of and almost no contacts in Healthcare IT. Up to this point, she had been applying to job postings and trying (unsuccessfully) to get recruiters to speak with her.
After narrowing her parameters and focusing her search on healthcare startups, we were able to leverage our network to build hers and make strategic introductions. It resulted in 12 informational interviews, 10 more introductions for Allison with decision makers in her target market, 3 submissions to job “openings” (2 of which weren’t even posted yet), and as of now 2 first-round interviews. Not bad for just a week’s worth of job search work!
From here, she can now extend her network with those 10 more introductions to lead to other informational interviews, intros, possible job openings, and hopefully interviews and offers…all much more traction and better possibilities than she was seeing before.
Also, interestingly, although her response from both job postings on job boards and recruiters was “you don’t have experience in healthcare IT,” she remarked to us that no one even mentioned that in her discussions from our strategic introductions. The reason? Because the conversation was centered on how to help Allison break into the industry, not on what she was lacking. As a result, these new connections thought of ways for her to make the transition, ultimately beginning to open, not close, doors.
Job postings can be great if you are one of the 1% to 7% who actually land a job from one, and recruiters are wonderful if you catch them at the right time with the right opportunity that you are perfectly suited for. But both options shut more doors than they open and can often be defeating for job seekers.
So, ask yourself, why continue to go down the path of discouragement when the value of an introduction can make such a big impact?