Social media technology has revolutionized networking, shifting the focus from cocktail party to Tweet, InMail and Like. “The Rolodex is a thing of the past,” says Chris Brown, director of talent solutions for LinkedIn UK.
Speaking to BusinessBecause, he says: “The value proposition of social networks is staying connected. It allows us to maintain a network much more easily than before.”
Two-thirds of adults use social networks — up from 7% a decade ago, according to the Pew Research Center. Facebook has 1.5 billion users; LinkedIn 400 million; Twitter 320 million.
With ever-growing numbers of company recruiters scouring social networks for job candidates — and employers screening profiles before making hiring decisions — social media have become tools for tech-savvy business graduates, none more so than LinkedIn.
“The platform opens many doors,” says Sharon Loh Meng Shuen, an MBA student at Lancaster University Management School. While working as a consultant for a Big Four professional services firm, she was headhunted through LinkedIn to work as an in-house tax specialist in southeast Asia.
“E-recruitment has been a ‘must have’ for some time,” says Dr Sandra Pereira, teaching fellow in organization and HR management at Warwick Business School.
Companies’ tentative foray into digital media has strengthened the position of networks looking to intermediate the talent market, says Nick Kemsley, co-director with the Center for HR Excellence at Henley Business School.
“Career network vehicles such as LinkedIn are an ideal medium for job candidates to showcase themselves,” he says — and connect directly with potential employers.
Recruiters using LinkedIn want to see more information and keywords related to your job search. “Put all of your experience online,” Chris says. But go beyond skills and expertise to position your own unique brand. “Authenticity is key,” he says. “….Rather than stale CV descriptions.”
For MBA students, a network is part of the thinking behind accepting the degree’s plush price tag. Access to vast, global alumni networks is to some as valuable as a top-flight business education.
“Almost 70% of the take away from an MBA is the contacts you make,” claims Andre Alcalde, a Brazilian retail executive studying at Hult International Business School.
Networking is the base to construct a successful career in business, he says. “To build and maintain a good network is fundamental.”
Networking helped Grenoble École de Management MBA Rodolfo Mitchell land a job at the Central Bank of Mexico. He used his network to find people who worked there, to arrange an interview with managers who were looking for an analyst at the time. “Social networking sites are the digital files for business cards,” he says.
Data from social networks is having a transformative effect on recruitment, believes Philip Stiles, co-director of the Centre for International Human Resource Management at Cambridge university’s Judge Business School.
“The ability to look through large amounts of data and become better at predicting who will fit the firm best is impressive,” he says.
John Reed, senior executive director at recruiters’ Robert Half Technology, says that in the internet age, it’s “essential to have an updated, thorough and employer-ready online presence in the event that a potential employer is using big data for their recruitment efforts”.
For Klarissa Chow, a Singaporean entrepreneur studying at UBC Sauder School of Business, a network helped her secure key clients.
Websites like LinkedIn provide a platform to connect with a certain level of trust, she says. “It is definitely the top site to market yourself, as well as for understanding who you are going to meet.”
“If you aren’t an avid LinkedIn user, it’s time to start being one,” says Jon Prove, who loves using the site to help people and to make introductions. “Building your network is, in many ways, building your personal net worth.”
But one should not discount face-to-face networking. “I’ve spent hundreds of hours at events establishing myself in the London tech sector,” says John, a Hult MBA and director of sales and marketing at pi-top.
The Rolodex may be dead, but the cocktail party is still crucial.