Hampton Roads is taking a beating when it comes to jobs. I guess that isn’t news to anyone but the folks getting let go. People that work for the government are getting furloughed. The current news reports that the days that government workers will have to take off will be reduced; it still has an impact on them that in some cases will be very harmful. The defense industry work force that supports the government is getting cut not furloughed. Defense workers are getting pay reductions, two week notices or less.
Whether you are sympathetic to this situation or not within itself doesn’t matter. The reason is that it may and most likely will affect you. In my post (https://cohenovate.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/of-mice-and-weeble-wabbles), I linked to a congressional report that estimated over 2 million jobs being impacted. I think those estimates are themselves short sighted. Let me give you an example, if I am buying a book today, I go to Amazon or B&N online or another online store. Those items that we are buying are not part of our local economy. It is certainly reasonable to think that the loss of a few jobs or diminished income for a few would have little impact on the many. It is unreasonable to think that wide sweeping job loss and income reduction would not impact other areas of the US and potentially other markets.
I have no idea what the real net impact will be but frankly, I know that I myself alone can’t change the economic and political climate. What I do know is that I have a network. It is a network of friends, family and work acquaintances that I made through my years of work. What I have been able to do through this network is help individuals find work and/or at least an opportunity for an interview.
What is different today?
Normally, we have to look out for one or two people and what that may amount to is a phone call or a simple email. Today is different; there are a lot of people coming off contracts, and being cut. As an individual, I alone can’t manage as a recruiting, retention and transfer service. Additionally, dealing with recruiting services has some of its own challenges. I am thankful that they exist but also understand that in a lot of cases, they are a last resort. For the record, there is nothing wrong with headhunters or technical service providers. They provide a service to their clients and labor respectively and they are normally upfront about the conditions of the service. The bottom line here is that under these circumstances and conditions we need to start pulling our networking efforts together and shift into a new gear.
In December of 2006, I joined LinkedIn™ and I started using it as I believe it was intended. When I meet people or if I have a relationship with them already, I ask if they are on LinkedIn and I connect with them. I check LinkedIn on a regular basis and I update my status. I have LinkedIn™ connected with Twitter and I am a part of many groups including a group that I have on IT concerning the defense oriented computing. I also started the Forge.Mil group when I worked with the team supporting DISA on that effort. All in all, I have a professionally established network on LinkedIn™ of over 1000+ people. In the past I have referred to Dunbars Law which states that people can only manage about 150 relationships with any real depth of context or tribal type of relationship. Seth Godin talks about this on his blog at (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/10/the-penalty-for-violating-dunbars-law.html) if you have any additional interest on this subject. I have in previous posts linked an authoritative source for this study. Essentially, you can know of a lot of people and you can have a large network but it is not possible to push the relationship boundaries for normal people over the 300 person mark. What this means is that on LinkedIn, the people that I know who have chosen to use this service are mostly acquaintances. It doesn’t matter if I met them at a party and they got the essence of Howie, they mostly don’t know to care much more about me than somebody that they used to know (there is a joke in there Goyte http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UVNT4wvIGY ).
In addition to LinkedIn™, I have an application that I use to manage relationships called “The Brain”, feel free to ask me about it but I have over the years advertised for them enough. I just use it to tie people to areas of work or systems and other things. In addition to this I have other social media outlets. I try not to use Facebook for anything business related except that when I blog it does go to Facebook. I also use Google+ the same way as Facebook. I will say that Google+ does seem to appeal to me more. All that being said, LinkedIn™ is the place where I expect to pull most of my professional network together and the place I can go where people keep their information up to date.
It Seems to Be Failing Me
It is taking me a long time to get here, I apologize. LinkedIn is not working the way I expect. Is it because I use the freemium version? If Jeff Weiner CEO of LinkedIn™ wants to double tap me, I think not. I am giving him content, in my view that content is worth more weight and value than the $240.00 a year that he expects me to pay them for the service. As a matter of fact, he should incentify me to put information into LinkedIn™ by offering me something. Last week was the first time that I have ever reached out to my whole LinkedIn™ network at one time for anything. I didn’t reach out to them for myself; I did it for someone else. When I put out a post asking for a response for a person who I know has skills that are in demand at this time, I got very little back. When I say little, I will be clear (two likes and one email ). In order to get some opportunity going, I had to work as hard as usual to make phone calls and send emails and do all of the things I would have to do regardless of LinkedIn™. Maybe I am using LinkedIn™ incorrectly? I get hundreds of appearances on search and I get about 7-10+ views over the course of a few days. Most of them don’t amount to anything unless I initiate a conversation. I could do that without LinkedIn™. The discussion threads in LinkedIn™ are almost useless. I said almost because I haven’t found the value in them for the most part. On occasion there have been good threads or linkages. Those occasions are fleeting. In terms of social analytics or metrics, I wonder what the ratio of active engagement is relative to named use. I digress.
Outside of LinkedIn™ and Beyond
If LinkedIn™ is just a resume service, I have one of those with VisualCV™ and that service does a better job of resume management within itself. I get more responses or hits from Facebook and Google+ on my blog than I do from LinkedIn™. Maybe Google+ or Facebook can replace it?
“It is very hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”
If you are still reading this blog, I am going to assume you care about others. I am also going to assume that you care about yourself. In other words, there should be the realization that we are all connected and that those connections and tethers far exceed our ability to understand the cause and effect relationships in our current view. I believe that it is our personal responsibility to help each other. I am not talking about a charity or hand out. I am not talking about a donation of GoodWill or a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. I am talking about helping each other with a micro transaction. A little help can go a long way. Do you know that (insert name here) they losing their job or getting cut? Is (insert name here) a good person? Is he/she competent? Can he/she benefit another organization or group that you know? If so, make the connection. It is good for them and it is good for you. It is a situation that is mutually beneficial. I haven’t always been successful in these efforts but I am not going to quit doing it. I am not a recruiter and I don’t make any money from my efforts. I am no better a person than anyone reading this. I simply believe that helping others is a responsibility and a blessing. Helping others pays dividends, not necessarily to you or me explicitly but it may help that person in a big way and the world in ways that we can’t comprehend.
A lesson From Matt S (You know who you are dude)
Matt teaches “Howie, if you want people to do something, you have to tell them what you want them to do and it has to be actionable.”
If you see that I post something on LinkedIn™ or any social media outlet and I am referring to a person that needs some attention or help. I want you to pass that on. If I have 9 million people in my extended LinkedIn™ network, there is no reason why one person out of 9 million won’t have an opportunity to offer. At the very least pass that name on and tell them when you pass it on that you don’t know the person but you have a second or third degree connection. Results will vary but the effort itself as small as it may be is that something that you can do that will make a difference even if that difference is simply to you.