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Can social media get you a job?

Advice, Digital Age, Top Stories March 15, 2012

The challenge: One week, one graduate, 5 connections. Can our reporter, Mike Storer, build his network?

Can social networking get you a job? There’s no denying that social media is massive. Almost everyone who uses the internet is on one of the big three, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Then there’s the new and the niche, like Instagram, Myspace and Google+. Not to mention the international networks like Orkut, Qzone and Renren.

With nearly 800 million users on Facebook alone, it’s no wonder business people are looking to social networks to build their business network. It’s like a party with half the world invited and you can just walk right up and talk to anyone, provided you have the right introduction. That’s why we set one graduate the challenge to see if he could build a social network that could get him a job from scratch. We told Mike to aim high. He had to connect with five people: a millionaire, a CEO, a headhunter, a newspaper journalist and a TV presenter. If Mike contacted them or accepted a friend request then the connection was made. We gave Mike one week and the only rule was: he had to make his connections using social networks. Here’s how he got on.

Wednesday 1st February

11.30am Forewarned is forearmed, so the saying goes. I spent the morning reading up on connection techniques and strategies for using LinkedIn. As the only real ‘professional network’ they seem like the best place to start.

1.00pm All the advice I read suggests starting with 2nd degree connections and having something worthwhile to say when you get in contact. 2nd degree connections are the friends of people you’re friends with (3rd degree connections are their friends and after that LinkedIn doesn’t tell you how many degrees are between you because it could get complicated). Most of my connections seem to work in PR of one kind or another but I struck gold dust finding I’m only one step away from Guardian journalist David Batty. Fire off an invitation to him and comment on his latest article, positively of course.

5.00pm No response yet from David but I have fired off another half dozen invitations to friends of friends.

Thursday 2nd February

9.00am Checked my inbox. No responses to yesterday’s invitations.

12.00noon People seem to connect to people that are going to be useful to them. Graduates can connect to people who might offer them jobs but why should busy employers connect to graduates? Because they want a pool of potential employees and because they occasionally need to know how graduates think. I’ve been working on that all morning and have been commenting on blogs, forums and just about anywhere else. I reckon, if I look like someone with opinions who’s active online that’ll make me the sort of person employers want to connect with.

1.00pm Still no responses.

Friday 3rd February

10.00am I’ve sent emails to most of my friends on LinkedIn, asking them to write me recommends and maybe have a word with their friends that I tried to connect with. Even with the posts and activities, no one is responding. It’s starting to look like my mum was right all those years and just being loud isn’t enough.

12.00noon I’ve tracked down some of my potential new connections on Twitter. Posting @them, then following up with an connection request on LinkedIn will hopefully make me seem like I’m all around (and thus the kind of person they want to connect to).

Saturday 4th February

1.00pm Jackpot! I assumed everyone from the ‘professional’ networks wasn’t going to be working on a weekend so I went on Facebook instead. My status update “does anyone know a millionaire, journalist, TV presenter, CEO or headhunter?” got seven responses in about five minutes. My sister knows a handful of millionaires and it turns out I’m casual acquaintances with about 10 CEOs. I don’t know any TV presenters directly (which I suspected) but my aunt might’ve provided me with a link: “I know a stunt man who works on ‘Top Gear’ and has done numerous Bond films”.

2.00pm Have asked everyone who responded to get me connected to whoever they know and got responses this time. Facebook is the way forward.

Sunday 5th February

12.00noon I got another response to yesterday’s Facebook message. My first real connection is a newspaper journalist in Norfolk. One down, four to go.

Monday 6th February

9.00am With the weekend being the most productive part of last week, I’m trying to use some of what I learned on other social networking sites. Going back to Twitter, I shared a general message like I’d done on Facebook asking for connections.

11.30am Someone I used to work with saw my message this morning. She said she noticed that I’d been “active all over the web” and pointed me in the direction of a CEO.

2.00pm The CEO accepted my request. Two out of five.

6.00pm My sister got back to me on Facebook. It seems she went to uni with two millionaires.

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