In less than a decade we’ve seen drastic shifts in how people find jobs, create careers, and establish personal and professional relationships. The next generation (the “net” generation?) has known technology from childhood. They thrive in a world of instant messaging, blogs, social networking, online collaboration, and more. They think differently; they work differently; and they use information differently. The job seekers world has changed and the traditional approach to sending out resumes and networking is no longer effective. The “net” generation develops relationships and shares information and experiences online. They create professional profiles on social networks such as LinkedIn that not only document their knowledge, skills, and experience but provide insight into their personality and perspectives.
People new to social networking often create a profile using their resume as their only resource. They see their profile as another way to submit their work qualifications. They fail to understand that a resume details expertise and commitment to doing a job well- it’s a sales tool to get interviews. A professional profile on, the other hand, has an entirely different purpose. A profile creates opportunities for the exchange of ideas and knowledge on social networks. It acts as your marketing collateral. A well constructed profile creates the impression of value to a networking relationship. Sales is closing the deal, getting the interview; and marketing is persuading people that you’re a valuable contact. Each requires a different approach to be successful.
Marketing like most endeavors needs a purpose and a process-knowing what you want to achieve and the process for getting there. Imagine that you’ve just discovered a fabulous web site where you can connect with people from all over the world. You grab your resume, click to create an account, and away you go. With no planning or purpose, you wait for opportunity to find you. Now imagine that you’ve assessed your career goals and created a vision for your future. Before creating your profile, you outline your contributions by skills, knowledge, talents, interests, education, credentials, and experience. This accurately reflects the value you bring to a relationship and puts you in the proactive position of finding opportunity rather than the reactive position of waiting for it to find you.
Throughout this article I’ll use two individuals: Alice and Scott. They will take very different approaches to achieving their goals to share information and learn from others. We’ll gather information from Alice and Scott and this will be used to define what approach works best for each of them.
Alice is a data modeler who wants to become a data architect. She feels that she has proven herself as a data modeler and is growing weary of explaining what the stick figure is at the end of the lines. She is happy with her current employment but wants to take on more responsibility and has set her sights on becoming an enterprise data architect. Unfortunately there are no enterprise architects in her company or positions of that kind. She really doesn’t want to seek another job because she likes the flexible hours and enjoys the team environment. Scott is a young hot shot programmer always looking for opportunities to work with the newest technology; he’s ambitious and wants to move up and earn more. Scott is outgoing and boisterous and he’ll discuss gaming with anyone who’ll listen. He’s more interested in opportunity and earnings than job loyalty to a single company.
What’s my purpose for creating a profile? Your purpose describes your motivation for creating a profile. It’s the reward you expect for the time and effort spent to create and maintain your profile. The process of defining your purpose clarifies the results you expect to receive.
Alice wants to learn what it takes to become an exceptional enterprise data architect. She seeks the expertise of others to learn how to become an architect and to figure out how to make the case to create a position within her current company.
Scott wants to stay on top of technology trends and he also wants to have a place to turn when the technology gets the best of him.
Who do I want to see my profile? Experience has shown that connecting to everyone and his brother diminishes the value of your social networking experience. Connecting to too many will confuse activity with progress.You want to connect with people who match your purpose because they are the individuals who can provide insight and perspective into your areas of interest.
Alice wants to network with data architects and the people who depend on them.
Scott’s wants to connect with like-minded hot shots.
What’s my message? Your message is for public consumption so it needs to be in first person, not third person or non-person. Your message is what you want people to know about you. If you don’t understand your message then neither will your reader.
Alice: I’m a data modeler and I’m good at what I do but I’ve come to realize that there is more to being a data architect than building good data models. I’m seeking to connect with others who work with data architects to share what I know and what I’m good at, and to learn from you and what you’re good at.
Scott: Isn’t it cool to do what you love? You never get bored because there is always new stuff. There are a million opportunities out there. I can’t see them all and never can you. Collectively we’ll see more than each of us individually.
What’s my communication style? There are multiple aspects to the style people use to communicate.
* Formal versus casual. Should I write full sentences or use abbreviations and slang?
* Factual versus antidotal. Should I just list the facts or tell a story?
* Structured versus linear. How should I organize my style? A chronological resume, for example, is linear and describes your experience from top to bottom; a functional resume is structured and organizes your experience differently.
* Concise versus robust. Should I use a bullet list or write paragraphs?
* Clear versus interesting. Should I write short clear sentences that are not ambiguous or write complex sentences that are more engaging?
Alice is an introvert. She is quiet and maybe even a little bit shy. She’ll tend to be more low-key in her communications and use a formal style. Part of what makes her a good data modeler is that she likes to get hold of the facts and represent the world clearly and concisely. Data modeling doesn’t leave a lot of room for ambiguity.
Scott’s communication is energetic and sometimes impulsive. He doesn’t always separate work from non-work. The difference between computers as business tools and gaming devices is blurry in his mind. His communications are often not planned and organized and take the form of storytelling as he interweaves his personal interests into his conversation.
What makes me interesting? People use social networks to build relationships. They want to know what makes you interesting, intriguing, and unique. They want to know what motivates you and why you’re good at what you do. They’ll share their personal perspectives and passions with you and expect an equal exchange.
Your resume is a starting point but it’s only part of who you are. You’ll need to gather lots of raw material-your resume, your bio if you’re a writer or speaker, personal and professional references and recommendations, and whatever else provides some insight into you.
Alice sees data as a lens through which you can view the business. She sees the relationships as a tool to collect, clarify and verify business rules. She has a talent for taking complex things apart and making them simple. She is good at explaining data models to business users but is enough of a data modeling geek to understand Boyce-Codd normal form.
Scott knows something about all the cutting edge technology and he’s always up for learning more. His enthusiasm is contagious. Scott is full of ideas, though not always practical they are thought provoking.
Now we have some insight into what makes Alice and Scott tick. They are two very different individuals with their own interests and personalities. They’ll approach social networking differently but since they’re both clear on their contributions and expectations, they’ll connect the right way with the right audiences.
We have enough information to write the profiles for Alice and Scott but we’ll leave this exercise for another article. Here are some thoughts I’d like to leave with you:
* A resume’s purpose is to get interviews; a profile’s purpose is to exchange ideas, experiences, and knowledge. They require two very different approaches
* Networking creates new relationships and the opportunity to learn.
* When you join a social network do it with a purpose. If you don’t know your purpose, neither will anyone.