I mentioned in a previous post that networking is something I need to get better at. Why? A good network can get you better jobs, a better chance of admission into graduate school, sporting event tickets, and more. Wait… sporting event tickets? Yup! I have gotten quite a few tickets to sports games by networking with divisions in my company that I normally wouldn’t deal with. When an event comes around and they have a few extra tickets who do they call? Me, of course! The friendly and intelligent guy from the operations/supply chain side of the business. Ok, enough patting myself on the back. Networking does have its benefits.
I would even venture to say that every blogger will agree that networking is a great way to add value to YOU. And using a word like every is very dangerous. Most people, at one point in their life, will need a good network to fall back on; it helps people bounce back from a bad moment in their life. About.com goes over a bunch of the benefits of networking and they pretty much go over what I said in greater detail.
However, I want to examine the point at which it seems networking actually approaches negative returns and decreases the value added. I was browsing my Linkedin and noticed one of my friends had 488 professional contacts. A few of my friends even had over 500! It got me to thinking…
Origins in Myspace
I remember when I first started hearing about MySpace profile sales. People would get a MySpace profile, build up their “friend” networks by sending random friend requests to everyone and their mother, and then sell the accounts on eBay. I think in the begining the accounts were fetching almost $10-20 per 1,000 friends. And even more if the person had been signed up on MySpace for a longer period of time. This doesn’t seem like a lot but I guess people were treating friending as an entrepreneurial endeavor and selling accounts with 50,000 friends. $10-20 per 1k…. well that is a good chunk of change (ahem, $500-1,000) for this virtual network, eh?
The demand has since dropped off and you can get 8,000 friends for $30, a measly $3.75 per 1,000 friends! This same profile at one time could have pulled between $80 and $160!
Saying that makes me scoff. You can buy 8,000 friends for $30? It is things like this that really irritate me about this new generation of technology. Why do we create such stupidity with dashes of amazing creativity? It makes it impossible to scrap the whole thing because we do not want to lose the amazing concept of social networking.
Now, I have not really heard as much about Facebook accounts being sold for loot based on their sheer amount of friends. I am sure it has happened, but it doesn’t seem to be on as large of a scale. But, instead, EVERYONE now accumulates friends like it’s going out of style.
“Nice shoes dude, got a Facebook?”
“O man that is so funny… we have the same blue BIC pen, got a Facebook?”
“Oh, you like to drink beer on the weekends? Got a Facebook?”
Is the point of Facebook to build a personal/social network? Or is it to accumulate names of people whom we have met? It seems to be the latter.
At a time when Facebook is being used to deny people jobs, what is the value added in friend-ing random people you will never speak to again once they have finished funneling the beer with you?
Quote from link:
Careerbuilder recently surveyed hiring managers and found that of those admit to screening job candidates using Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites, 34 percent admit to dismissing a candidate from consideration because of what they found on the social networking sites.
AGAIN… people are being denied jobs based on social networking sites.
Obviously the point is not that everyone should get rid of their Facebook. But… please realize that we live in a glass society. Examine your privacy settings. Be more exclusive with your friend requests. Make sure anything that is visible to the public is in good taste (would you hire the guy doing a keg stand in a leprechaun outfit to handle clients worth millions in revenue?).
And back to the original point. As people “graduate” from Facebook to Linkedin, it seems they are bringing some of the same practices with them. I have started seeing main profile images of people in suits at bars with beers in hand and girls on shoulder. Is that the image you want to display to a potential future employer or client? Obviously these future employers are not naive. They know you drink. And they know you like girls. But it all has to do with how you are choosing to present yourselves to them… in a less than professional manner.
On top of that, doo you think being 23 with a network of 500+ people screams: “I am so professional that everyone wants to be in my network to open up doors” or “This isn’t really as much of a professional network as it is a people I have met in my travels” depository.
Think about it. This is a professional network, treat it like one.
What’s Your Take?
Cheers! Let me know what you think about these new age networking sites and the effect they have on youngsters in the workplace! Or even what effect they have on the workplace as a whole, young or old.