Among others, I work with senior executives looking for a new role. It often comes as a surprise to them to learn that almost across the board 80%+ of jobs are created for the individual rather than being conceived and advertised beforehand. In order to have someone create a role for you, they need to TRUST you, and for that to be the case they need to LIKE you, and even before that they need to KNOW you. There’s little doubt about that.
While a few very keen networkers are always looking for opportunities to connect their contacts with each other, most won’t do so until you tell them that you’re looking for a new job.
As a rule of thumb, I expect my clients to have between 50 and 80 contacts who are close enough for them to tell this to. This is simply an empirical observation – people with that kind of number, who actually tell them openly that they are in the market, don’t have trouble finding something. People with fewer, and people who can’t allow themselves to be open to their closest contacts in this way, generally end up looking for more than six months.
So how do these people get to know you sufficiently well?
Well, usually, someone else who knows you introduces you to them. The same thresholds for making an introduction to a job creator are still there, but they are not quite as substantial as the ones that lead someone to actually create the job.
And how do people get to know you enough to make such an introduction? They experience your interactions on groups, they read your posts on their Pulse feed, they speak to you on the phone or by Skype, they see your presentations on SlideShare, they form an impression of your values by following your tweets, and through Facebook, they meet you for coffee, they see you at industry events, and so on.
But how do they get to do all those things? Well some happen offline – meeting you at trade shows, for example, but most happen because somehow they have become a connection through digital social networks first. Think about it. It takes far more effort to do most of those than it does to spot someone who looks interesting and connect through LinkedIn.
Of course, there are always going to be people who are exceptionally well connected in the offline world – often because of their job and their public profile through that. They don’t need to use a tool like LI, but for the rest of us it is an invaluable resource once we overcome our fears.