Are you a big social networker? I was horrible at it during and after college.  However, I tried (and failed) at networking during a couple of alumni association mixers I went to.  I tried to be friendly and upbeat to the people I was meeting, but it was all very awkward and annoying.  I’d meet people and about a minute into the conversation, they’d be looking over my shoulder to see if there was anyone else to talk to.  Julie was with me at one mixer, and I think she found it as painful as I did.

My problem is that while I went to a big name university for grad school, I didn’t go to its big name business school or the law school.  And these alum mixers seem to be about business connections. If you come from the social sciences or humanities, you might as well have an “L” on your forehead ’cause in the speed dating of an alum mixer, social science and humanites majors are generally the losers in the economy.  When I look at my current job and bank account balance, I would be hard pressed to defend myself against such charges, but I can always comfort myself that I’m intellectually richer.  🙂

I bring up networking because I’m on these social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and (gulp!) My Space.  For My Space, I have friends who have blogs that I read, but mostly I use the site to click around to listen to music by bands I’ve never heard of.  I joined Facebook as a way to keep in touch with a grad school friend who lives in Canada. But now there are many more friends I’ve added and I tend to check out my page more and more because of the amusing ways you can mess with your friends.

LinkedIn is probably the most professional of the social networking sites.  I read about LinkedIn over the summer in Wired and thought “What the hell. In for a penny, in for a pound” and set up a profile on that site as well.  LinkedIn is a site where you try and create a network folks who share your professional ambitions.  I’m still new to this site, and to be honest, have only participated in one of their features (i.e., “Answers”), so I can’t really say if this whole networking thing has worked out or not in terms of professional contacts and jobs.  Because we all know about the “hidden” job market, right?  Sure. It’s the one where a friend might say,  “Hey do you know anyone who does X ’cause we’re hiring at our company.”  And if you do “X” you say “I do X!”  Your friend talks to the person doing the hiring and says “Hey, you should check out my friend ’cause she/he does X!”  If it’s a good match, you’ll probably be fast-tracked for an interview. 

You know what they say about who you know… But is that phrase an accurate reflection of the jobs you’ve been able to get?  Also, have you used social networking sites for work related opportunities? How’s that working out?

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