There was just one more day to submit the proposal to the client in Mumbai. Sitting in Chennai, handling the remote task of identifying a resource who can consult for us in this assignment was indeed a farfetched possibility in more ways than one! Late into night, we were still working away on our machines while interacting on phone with the Mumbai team. One colleague piped up suddenly `I have found her!’. Presuming it was his dramatic moment to announce his marriage, we retorted on the speaker phone – hey, this can wait till tomorrow. `She has the right skills, is in Mumbai and is ready to work with us; what more do you want? Wait till tomorrow?’ There was a chorus `Oh!’ from the rest of us. The consultant met with the team, worked out the details and then was interviewed by the client. We signed the contract the next day evening. So, how did our colleague `find’ the consultant? Simple – on Linkedin.
Social networking sites profess objectives beyond merely that of connecting people on the web page. Professional information is shared across organizations and geographies; information of individuals, which ironically respective employer organizations may not have paid attention to. Long gone are the days when we need to look around to obtain information about a business prospect before the first meeting. With the emerging options of Information Technology (such an apt term in this context) one needs to hit a networking site, type the name and read about the profile of the person to be met. In the world of hiring, recommendation does matter, as what is important is not what you know but who you know. With multi level networking, it is possible to not only check an individual’s profile but also check his/ her references.
Networking is two-fold: online and the real world. Online networking throws up a wide range of options through blog, chat, websites – professional & social. Regular updation of the posted profile is necessary for one to be alive and visible in the cyber world. Networking does not confine to the individual alone. There has to be the two way process of seeking as well as providing information. On the one hand, there is the need to explore career changes, and on the other hand, the readiness to communicate opportunity leads, which may be of interest to other people. When information is posted, several readers put up responses and this interaction leads to forming of new professional relationships which can add value to one’s career growth in the long run. Several online communities have been launched by people with common interests.
Such platforms provide scope for knowledge and experience sharing and at times, even exchange of personal information; the age old pen pal concept has now been enhanced to the cyber friend variety. These online friendships cannot be treated lightly as people spend more time on the internet than with real people. Online interaction is done at your own pace and convenience and one can be selective about communication even within an online community. The conviction that a technically savvy person is not socially affable does not hold water anymore. Technical competencies and social skills are now on two sides of the coin.
While online social participation does go a long way in elevating professional status, socializing in the real world has its own charm. If one is too busy to socialize it would only have a negative impact on his professional standing. Attending seminars and meets is not an after work activity; it is an integral part of the profession. Memberships in associations, clubs and forums help in meeting people on a regular basis. Many a business deal or a job offer has been the result of social networking where one has been in the right place at the right time. I recall one organization becoming richer by an excellent project manager rather unexpectedly; one of their sales managers, happened to wait at the lobby of a hotel for a cousin who he was to have dinner with.
While waiting, he struck conversation with someone sitting there. The interaction, as is expected, started with talking about the increasing city traffic (both were waiting for their respective guests) and the hospitality industry’s service standards. When the sales manager discovered, in course of the conversation that the other person had concluded an assignment in the US and was now exploring options in India, he invited him to his office the next day. Meetings were fixed and the organization which was desperately hunting for a project manager for a new assignment, made the offer right away. Well, even for coincidences to occur, one not only needs to be there but also engage in meaningful and constructive conversation.
The power of social networking is increasing by the day and various levels of social interactions are emerging. The word of mouth or letter of recommendation has now gracefully given way to website credentials.
If one has to keep abreast of what is happening in the corporate world with regard to job as well as business opportunities, then social networking is the only way of life. However, we need to keep in mind the extent to which we can divulge or even share information, specially, in the cyber networking platform. Sensitive and critical information needs to be well thought out before communicating the same in person or on the net. The employer organization’s confidential information is not to be shared even if it means getting a foot into the proverbial door. Awareness of social ethics and professional values is the underlying guideline while networking. Knowledge and information sharing, leads posting, relationship building and so on will be highly beneficial so long as the process and the content is aligned with the buzz word: Netiquette.
MD & CEO