Below is an article from the October 11, 2009 career section of the Minneapolis StarTribune
October 11, 2009
By Brett Pyrtle, Minneapolis StarTribune
Facebook, LinkedIn and other electronic tools are great ways to build a network. But smart job seekers don't limit their connections to cyberspace.
Fueled by an economic downturn, social and career networking sites are full of people using their computers to stay connected with one another. But in a job search, an online approach to networking will only go so far.
"Everyone is looking for a silver bullet in their job search, and that doesn't exist," says Paul DeBettignies, founder of the MN Headhunter recruiting blog. "For example, if you use LinkedIn to identify a potential job or networking contact, sooner or later you'll need to connect by phone and, eventually, in person. You can't find a job without actually talking with somebody."
Clearly, online networking offers benefits. For example, a recent national study by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law reports that nearly 70 percent of employers believe social networks are valuable recruiting tools. However, according to a 2009 survey of human resource managers by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, personal networking is still considered the most effective way for job seekers to secure a new position.
So, what is the best approach to balancing online networking tools with old-fashioned face time? DeBettignies suggests the following tips:
Move select online relationships to personal ones. These days, it's easy to start a relationship through blogging, discussion boards, networking sites or basic e-mail correspondence. If some of those contacts turn out to be more valuable than others, DeBettignies says it's time to move away from the computer. "Most people are social creatures. There's still nothing better for relationship-building than a handshake or a hug, a cup of coffee or a lunch. You can't just write a blog. You need to talk with people."
Know where people connect. This concept can vary widely by location and industry. For instance, DeBettignies says IT professionals in the Twin Cities tend to make great use of Twitter and LinkedIn for electronic networking, while face-to-face gatherings might be built around skill-specific user groups or professional association events. Taking time to locate the right places to be greatly enhances the prospects for successful networking.
Rethink networking ideas. In addition to well-defined electronic and personal networking opportunities, it's also a good idea to consider how social outings-such as worship, recreation or children's activities - can provide new venues to connect. "These are occasions where people frequently ask for ideas about doctors, schools and other things," says DeBettignies. "At some point, it makes sense for people to elevate that conversation to include a job search."
Brett Pyrtle is principal of Turning Point Communications LLC, a communications consulting firm based in St. Paul.