The “Social” Network (no reference to the movie!) is, and will always remain, the most powerful yet most underutilized network known to mankind! And today, more than ever before, it’s become the most important network you need to actively participate in! It not only has tremendous utilitarian benefits but its new social benefits are incredibly persuasive in this digital age. Nowadays, the more people you know, your ability to influence becomes greater because you have a semi-captive audience that’s ready to listen. Think about it… who’s potentially got more leverage – the person with 100 Facebook friends or the one with 5,000? As the world becomes flatter, your ability to stand out from rest of the pack becomes more challenging and requires a new strategy and subsequent tactics. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide – do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a whale in that same small pond? I don’t know about you, but you can call me Orca!
Taking a step back for a moment, we have to understand that there is a very human element that’s required to be able to get out there, face-to-face, and meet new people. For some, it may be harder than for others, but what we have to realize is that this is no longer a problem! Why? Because the world is flatter, you now have the power of the other network – the online network(s) like the Facebook, Twitter, Quora, and others that help you ‘get out there’ while still remaining in your comfort zone.
Examining the utilitarian benefits of the network… simply put, if you know someone, you can potentially get a ‘hook up’. If you know someone, who knows someone, you’ll probably still be able to get a better deal than if you didn’t know anyone at all. Next – let’s look at this from a career perspective. Did you see the ad in the paper for the new CEO of GM? Of course you didn’t – and you never will! That’s because the best jobs are found through your network. Do you think Ed Whitacre (former GM CEO and Chairman) has the time to source and screen candidates or is he going to pick up the phone and make a couple of strategic calls to his network?
From a platform perspective, Reid Hoffman was spot on when he founded LinkedIn. It’s a great example of an online tool you can use to increase your network and stay in touch with people who may not be readily accessible. Traditionally, LinkedIn has been used by the Gen-X crowd and they’ve been successful in attracting over 60 Million users. But what about Gen-Y? Well, a friend of mine, Rick Marini has something for them too! Rick is the founder of BranchOut™ – a career networking application on Facebook. BranchOut’s idea is simple, yet genius – friends helping friends (potentially through other friends) get a job. In the past, the line between friendship and career clearly had a line separating the two because the rule was, you don’t mix work and home together. Today, however, that same line has become blurry… if not invisible. Gen-Y folks are friends with the people they work with and it just seems to work. Regardless of which Gen-bracket you’re in, the tools are available for you.
As I wrap up this post, I want to leave you with one thought… You could be best in the world at something, but if no one knows you exist, what good is it doing you? Get out there to build and leverage the power of your network!