A social network is a service that allows users to develop and/or enhance relationships with others by sharing information, links, video, opinions, and thoughts electronically with friends and others by broadcasting or personal conversations. That’s a pretty long-winded way of saying a platform for interpersonal of person to many communications.
For example, a person who wants to connect with you to create an advantage while playing an online game asks to be your friend and helps you with tools or services in that game, and generates an emotional connection with you (you’re happy). Or maybe someone like Kiki, someone I met while playing Mafia Wars on Facebook, takes pity on me and sends weapons to me to help me move up the ranks much faster. After doing that a few times, I was so enamored with how she helped me leapfrog several friends of mine . . . she was fabulous in my mind.
Imagine that she now asks me for advice, or asks for help with her resume, and we start talking either by phone, messaging, or text. She’s elevated herself to me and I to her. Maybe I notice that she is posting an article about some element of job hunting. I am now curious about what she thinks . . . and now we have an emotional connection beyond the fact we have been playing an online game. It is no different than many other social interactions except it is carried out on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
For example, when our family moved to Pennsylvania, my wife wanted our son to carpool with other children to school so that she wouldn’t have to drive there every day. We knew no one in the area and asked the school for a recommendation of someone we could speak with about it locally. The school pointed my wife to another family and their twins who lived a few blocks from us and were willing to share the driving and expense of transporting the boys.
In the course of dealing with all the logistical issues that can creep into conversations, in the course of telling stories to one another about the conversations one mom or the other overheard the boys engage in, a relationship developed into a true friendship. Trust and faith in one another occurred between the two Moms, the children, and the Dads so that even though their boys no longer attend the same school as my son, we and they are still good friends and there is a willingness for the two families to help one another when one logistical need or another occurs.
The same occurs electronically, too.
When I read something a new connection posts on a site, I start developing an opinion of them. It is tested with subsequent messages and refined until I develop a repeatedly confirmed impression of them.
Professionally, the same thing occurs. Seeing someone repeatedly post a message about their area of expertise (or supposed area of expertise) starts to give me the impression of their being an expert in their field. As jobs or consulting assignments present themselves, I start to look at them in an advantaged way because they are somewhat known to me from having followed their writings, videos, messages, blogs, and other forms of communications in the online universe. They are someone who is not a stranger to me, even if I have never met them or spoken with them on the telephone before.
This “relationship” benefits them because they now learn of opportunities from me ahead of their potential competitors and can choose whether to interview for an opportunity before others are given a choice.
It’s like being invited to the buffet before anyone else has had a chance to examine what is there and pick it apart and then get a good table to eat at before anyone else. The food at the buffet looks much nicer when it hasn’t been picked over by others first and then, to have an opportunity to select what you want and be escorted to a table feels very nice.
But before you start doing more to enhance your visibility in the online universe, you need to do some work to see what is already out there about you.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2010, 2012, 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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