Archive for June, 2009

So What Do We Do Now?

June 30, 2009 Leave a comment

By Michele O’Connor

View bio here
HR Technology Report

To answer that, we need to look at this question from the angle of a job seeker, employer & recruiter.

As job seekers we may want to remember that "Employment Starts with Education." We’ve all attended school in some form – high school, college, grad school, tech school, etc. Our underlying education may have been to learn the English language. Or maybe it was finance, history or healthcare. Either way, education is the basis of many of our talents and skills.

During these tough economic times and periods of intense layoffs & downsizing, people should feel comfortable freshening up their skills. Maybe it is time to switch gears into other areas and start a new learning curve. If you lost your job as a financial advisor on Wall Street, maybe consider an accounting or finance job in a different industry such as biotech, insurance, healthcare, "Green", etc. You can always visit your alma mater (or other educational facilities in your area) to hone in on those skills or take the courses you may need. You can also look to your old career service center for up-to-date pointers on resume writing, interviewing and job search techniques.

As employers & recruiters we may want to consider "Contrarian Hiring." Let me illustrate,
Rick Fecteau runs a chain of automobile dealerships in New Hampshire & Massachusetts. One would think that his dealerships are suffering like many other dealerships during this tough economic time. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is causing his business to hold it’s own and even improve – the availability of top performers from other dealerships that lost their jobs.

Instead of waiting around for the market to turnaround, Rick has taken a proactive stance and has been hiring top talent from other dealerships that have closed. “It would normally be impossible to get these people to leave their old jobs and join other dealerships,” says Rick Fecteau of Port City Nissan/Suzuki & Amesbury Chevrolet. New hires include managers, salesmen, technicians, etc. Once the economy gets back on track, Rick will reap the benefits of hiring talent at this stage. Consider it “Contrarian Hiring.”

Popular job boards are seeing the same trends. “Job seekers are certainly registering on our site in massive numbers but we are also seeing employers world-wide using this opportunity to hire the best talent that would normally be hard to source,” says David Mezzapelle, Director of Marketing & Development at
Due to the current economic climate, employers should also consider hiring interns as a means of building a cost-effective, motivated staff. The benefits are endless. Plus, as things improve, the better performing interns can fill permanent roles post-graduation.

“Internship” is a word that is often used to encompass employment while attending school (or during the summer). The internship is a means of gaining experience in the applicable field of study. Most of the time it implies receiving college credit, in lieu of pay, while gaining real-life experience. In other cases pay is received but at a reduced rate. If no credit is earned the pay scale is generally higher.
Employers benefit greatly.

Here are a few of those benefits:
• When employers hire interns, it clearly displays the employer’s involvement in the local community. This is important for corporate development and civic duty.
• Interns are “bright-eyed” and motivated to learn. They want to gain experience towards their career and, quite frankly, need that experience to compete.
• Interns are cost-effective and flexible.
• Top Performers are spotted early and can be groomed for full-time employment later.
• Interns that are hired full time post-graduation have already learned your culture. No need to retrain.
• The surge in the 50+ population is reducing the amount of young people available to fill key roles. By hiring interns and retaining them full-time, you are protecting the long term growth of your workforce.

Hiring interns is no longer reserved for law or healthcare. Internships now exist across all industries including technology, business, education, skilled labor, hospitality and much more. Job seekers & employers have nothing to lose and everything to gain.


Top Sports & Top Management

June 23, 2009 Leave a comment

by Marjon Oosterhout
Passion for Talent
View Bio Here

52 Performance Principles

Recently I was asked by a journalist of the Dutch Financial Daily to comment on the increasing number of executives who step aside with health problems and burn-out symptoms.

I basically told him that I wasn’t surprised and expect more to follow.

I made the comparison between top sportmen and top management. The similarity in my view is that for both you need a combination of passion, talent and hard work.

When I compare top sportsmen (and women) and top managers I see less similarities. The biggest difference I see is the way top sportsmen take care of their physical and mental health.

They understand they cannot deliver peak performance all year round. They carefully plan a balance between training, performance and recovery. They surround themselves with people who advise and support them on the technical aspects as well as the mental aspects, they understand the importance of “feeling good between the ears” .

So why do top managers think they can continue to deliver peak performance while working 80+ hours a week, crossing time zones, poor eating habits, no time for hobbies, a lack of physical exercise and hardly any time to take a step back and reflect?

I have observed this with some concern during the “good times”, but it concerns me even more in the current economic climate. As the demands and stress increase, the need to take good care of oneself increases equally.

This doesn’t just apply to top managers or top sportsmen. It applies to managers and sportsmen in general.

Some years ago I ran marathons, (New York amongst others). My main goal wasn’t a fast time, it was finishing in an enjoyable way. Yet in preparing I lived for that marathon. I listened to the trainer and read books about what food to eat, how to balance training efforts and rest, anything to help me run the 26 miles successfully.

To be honest, I cannot remember I ever prepared myself like this for a professional challenge.

Nor do I know of executives who do.

In many of my coaching conversations with leaders we talk about this. All these leaders agree they are more effective when they are fit and take time to relax and reflect. Recently one of them actually looked very sad when he admitted “I don’t know how to find the time”.

My belief is he will have to if he wants to lead his organization successfully through these turbulent times. This is not about preventing health problems for himself, it’s also about setting the right example to his teams.

We now have plenty of data on the cost of stress related illnesses such as burn-out. Yet I still observe too many environments where making long hours is seen as a sign of strength, where people who do balance work and life are seen as lacking ambition. This means heading for a lose- lose situation.

How well do you take care of yourself in these challenging times? Who do you turn to for support and advice?

What do you do as an HR professional to help your executives to change the way the live their lives. What do you do to drive this culture change?

Recruiting Costs Too Much!

June 15, 2009 1 comment

by John Wentworth
Wentworth Recruiting

Read John’s bio on the HR Performance website


“Costs too much!” the CFO growled.

“I agree,” the VP of Logistics chimed in.

“How much should recruiting cost?” Jim asked.

“Less,” both of the others said.

“Oh, you are a bunch of help,” Jim said cheerfully.

“You need to take this seriously,” the CFO threatened.

Jim pulled out a piece of paper, a report by, and read:

The overall Recruiting Cost Ratio for employers has fallen to 9.5%, with a range of 7.8% to 11.2% and relatively little variation. The average for suppliers remains at 14.2%, close to last year’s overall measurement.

“We average under 10%,” Jim said.

“That’s above average,” the CFO barked, as only CFOs can bark when complaining about cost.

“And we have the highest productivity we’ve ever had and no turnover. Not a little. Not less than average. NO turnover.”

“No turnover. So what?”

“The Department of Labor says 2008 separations were 48.7% of total employment! One out of two employees leaves! We have zero turnover. Some people say an employee turning over costs 30% of that person’s pay, some say a lot more. Let’s take the low number. Logistics hired 50 people last year. The average salary was $70,000, so if one of our people left, it would cost $21,000 to replace them, pay for lost productivity, training, cost of recruiting, etc. And let’s say half your people turned over. 25 times $21,000 is what?”

The CFO scribbled. “Just over a half a million dollars.”

“What was our cost per hire?”

“You said it was around 10%.”

“Yes. 10% of salary and zero turnover. How much is 10% of salary?

The CFO got busy again. “Fifty hires at an average of $70,000 is $3,500,000 in salary. Ten percent is $350,000.”

“And zero turnover saved us how much?”


“So I can’t promise you that we would have had that much turnover, but if you accept both averages, it looks like our recruiting made you $150,000 this year in avoided expense.”

The CFO and VP of Logistics weren’t happy, but they were stumped. So Jim left.

“It’s never that easy,” Jim told his wife that night. They were sitting on their deck, enjoying the last light of the day. Their kids were playing in the yard.

“What do you mean?” his wife asked.

“Around four, the staff analyst for Logistics strolls in my office and drops the news on me that the cost of talent acquisition isn’t the issue at all. They were just whupping on me because they could not whup on each other.”


“Logistics is over budget. The villain is that they hired too many people.”

“So why are they beating up on you?”

“Because the CEO has made them promise to be nice to each other. So the real issues are not surfacing because they can’t figure out how to deal with them without getting grumpy at each other and getting the CEO mad at them.”

“You work with a bunch of children.”

“And those very same children sign the paycheck that pays for this palace, your jewels and the fabulous round-the-world trips we take all the time.”

“Ho. Ho. So can you do anything?”

“Maybe yes, maybe no.”

When Jim went to work the next day, he started his sleuthing.

The CFO told him, “I have a directive from the CEO to make sure that we do not spend more than we can afford. The staffing levels are too high, too expensive. So you and yours are the choke point. I’m going to cut your budget.”

“What will that do?”

“It will save the company money! And keep you from hiring more people.”

That didn’t make any sense to Jim, so he left and went to the SVP of Operations.

“We need the people. We are getting new business and we have to staff it. You need to keep filling our jobs. My people are dropping like flies we are working them so hard.”

“Do you ever talk to the CFO?” Jim asked her.

“All the time. Why?”

Not being sure of his ground quite yet, Jim slipped the question. “Just asking.” Then he left.

Sitting on the deck again that evening, Jim said to his wife, “This is too absurd to be true. The CFO really wants fewer hires. He tells me but does not tell the line people. And he wants to cut my budget so I don’t have enough money to fill the jobs.”

“Why doesn’t he just talk to the line people?”

“Dunno, but there must be a reason. Gotta find out. This is a lot harder than it needs to be.”

“Dinner is ready,” Jim’s daughter, who had volunteered to cook that night, yelled from the kitchen. Jim and his wife gathered up their things, looking forward to a fine meal.

“You daughter cooks?” Sarah Hockney, the CEO, asked Jim. They had worked together off and on throughout the years and liked and respected each other.

“She’s been taking classes and thinks she might go to the Culinary Institute.”

“Wish my kids cooked. I think their MacDonald’s addiction blinds them to that ambition.”

“Yeah, but maybe they’ll go to a state school, so you’ll trade fine food for low tuition.”

“Never thought of it that way. So why are you here in my office? What are you going to try to torture me with?”

“We have a problem and I need your help.”

“I don’t remember your ever coming into my office when that was not so. What is it this time?”

“Your operations people are getting more business and feel strongly that they need to staff up. The CFO feels that staffing levels are already too high and, following a directive he ascribes to you, is getting ready to cut my budget so I cannot provide the recruiting service your operations people need. He also says I cost too much.”

“How much do you cost?”

“Ten percent of salary.”

“That’s pretty good. I seem to remember that the national cost per hire average was higher.”

“It’s about the same, but it’s a squishy number. There is no standard for what data go into it. Everybody does it a little differently, depending on whether including data or excluding data gores their ox.”

“Funny how that works.”

“It’s also squishy because different jobs are variously difficult to recruit. So comparing the cost per hire of hiring teenagers to work at a movie theatre – big supply, low requirements – to hiring programmers in some esoteric and rare software like Ruby on Rails, is apples to oranges.

“So I don’t mean to hold out the numbers as gospel, but we are about two tenths of a percent over a reasonably reliable national average. And, we have no, count them, zero, turnover of the people we hired last year.”

“So your costs are OK.”

“I think so.”

“And no turnover should be saving us a ton of money in replacement, training, lost productivity, supervisor’s time, etc.”

“I think so.”

“And you have talked to all the parties concerned?”

“I have, but they do not seem to be talking to each other about this. I think this is an unintended consequence of your ‘play nice’ directive.”

“I am consistently astonished at how people can find ways to screw up even the most simple and direct instruction.”

“What should I do?”

“Analyze the problem for me,” Sarah told Jim.

“There are two problems: number of hires and the resulting salary cost and the cost of acquisition. The second is about 10% the size of the first. Both problems have two parts: total cost and run rate. I’m sure you have a formula that tells you how many people you need for how much business you sell. So that gets us to total cost. I have not traditionally been involved in that, but I can be if you want.”

“Keep going. You are now going to talk about run rate.”

“Yup. I’m sure we can plan out when new hires should be on the job. Once we do, we can lay out a schedule of salary and acquisition costs. The CFO will want to stretch the hires out to reduce the cost this year. Your ops people will probably want it sooner, but maybe they will be sensible.”

“Can you make that schedule?”

“Consider it done.”

“Thank you for your visit.”

“Thank you for your help.”

Sara went to work with her people, constructing the issue for them. The CFO was, in fact, being very protective of cash, but was not focusing on his putting the new revenue at risk having too few people to do the work. The CFO was also conveniently ignoring the fact the requisitions for the jobs had been approved by all the needed individuals, including him.

The operations people were being reasonable, having already built a schedule of when they wanted their people to be in their seats.

The sales people, on the other hand, were chuckling and feeling mischievous about all the trouble they had created by selling so much business. And, being commissioned, they were chuckling all the way to the bank.

Jim got his hands on the schedule and priced it, cost of acquisition and salaries, all based on fill dates.

He took it first to the head of HR who nodded. He understood the problems and was very glad that Jim was the front person on this. Jim then took the spreadsheet to the CFO.

“This is the schedule they want. Every requisition has been approved. The analysis shows when each person will start. If you look at the weekly cost graph you will see a huge bump in the middle of the year, but then you will see that once the jobs are filled, the cost of recruiting goes to nearly zero.”

“That’s too much money,” she CFO growled.

“It’s the same amount of money if we do it on their schedule as it would be if we did it more slowly. We just spend it faster. But it’s the same amount.”

“That’s not true for the salaries, though. The sooner the jobs start, the more it costs us.”

“True,” said Jim, “but these staffing levels are consistent with the business we’ve booked. We can’t do the work without the people and the deadlines came from the client. Our ops people didn’t just dream them up out of thin air.”

Some months later, the CFO growled, “Costs too much!”

“I agree,” the VP of Logistics chimed in…again.

This time they were not talking about the cost of staffing. They were talking about the cost of dinner which they had agreed to split to celebrate a banner year. Sales had booked all the troublesome business. Jim’s analysis had created the platform for a rational dialog between the CFO and the operations people, so recruiting had been allowed to get their job done.

The cost per hire had dropped, in fact, to 9% of salary and they still had no turnover.

Their profit for the year was great. They had beaten all their client deadlines, in great part because they had talented people on board when they needed them and they stayed, so time, money and energy did not need to be diverted to replacement and retraining.

“Easy children,” the CEO said. “I’ll pay.”

She smiled at Jim.

“But before we end, I want to single out Jim for helping to break up the log jam that was threatening to keep us from getting people on board. Jim, thank you.”

“You are welcome,” replied Jim. “Does this mean you are going to recommend to my boss that I get a raise?”

“You cost too much!” the CFO growled, grinning from ear to ear.

“I agree,” the VP of Logistics chimed in also grinning.

The entire group raised their glasses in a salute.

Professional/Social Networks – Where do we draw the line?

June 15, 2009 6 comments

HR Performance asked the question below to twenty human resources professionals and managers. 
LinkedIn and Facebook are at the top, but Twitter and MySpace are falling behind…

Professional/Social Networks – Where do we draw the line?
Has the widespread growth of social networks become a distraction or are they essential to your personal and company’s development? Please include which social networks you need, use on occasion, could care less about, or find distracting.

networkingJohanna Norin
Performance Process Specialist
Volvo Cars
Göteborg Area, Sweden

This is a very up to date topic that I think many companies currently are facing. We have heard about companies that have had to forbid use of network sites such as Facebook and block company computers from sites like these. Although I know that many companies encourage networking and use of different networking sites.

I think it’s important to realize that it’s probably not black or white; it can vary depending on company, position and job tasks.

I can fully understand if companies draw the line at sites such as Facebook, where it’s a lot focus on meeting old and new friends, and time can easily be forgotten.

I personally think that other types of networking should be encouraged (depending on position and main job tasks) such as LinkedIn, Facebook for professionals, and networking groups focusing on specific topics. I work as a Specialist in my Company (within performance area). For me it’s crucial to have an opportunity to discuss how other people work with these issues and keep updated on what ongoing. More and more companies are talking about benchmarking. Different networks in my area of work are really helpful and important. I use LinkedIn, and I am part of different networking groups within my specialist area. Of course everything should be used in moderation and there should be a purpose with it, not all time should be on these networks.

So concluding my point of view; using work time to meet new friends or for job opportunities is not OK. Networking within your line of work to be able to keep up to date and broaden work networks are important and should be encouraged.

But remember these issues are difficult and need to be discussed (situation from situation)

Michele O’Connor
GoliathJobs &

I do believe that people need to utilize the various online professional networks (i.e. HR Performance, ERE, LinkedIn, etc) but need to control the number. It seems that the widespread growth of networks is starting to become a distraction. I would rather be involved in 2 or 3 powerful networks and give it my all versus being a member of 10 and constantly be bombarded with invites, friend/group requests, comments, etc. Remember that people are already distracted by Facebook, mySpace and even their school’s alumni network.

It is time to go outside and get some air people!

There has to be a threshold. The same complaint resonates throughout our company and it does not seem to end. Our IT department has shown our staff how to block invites from services like Ning which have made it too easy for this problem to happen. I am starting to wonder if Ning would be better off to charge a small fee. It would prevent every “Tom, Dick & Harry” from starting a network and driving us batty.

Marjon Oosterhout
B.V. Executive Coaching and Development
Passion for Talent

Maybe old fashioned, but I’m not a great fan of the LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, and other types of e-networking instruments. Why? They are too easy and don’t require a lot of effort. For me networking means having a real interest in people. Being willing to invest time to meet people and get to know them. This is how I have always networked and I’m finding it pays off. When I started my own company 2 years ago I was amazed by how many people from networks were willing to help, support, and refer. I don’t think the hundreds of names in LinkedIn who I hardly ever meet would have done that for me.

Bryan Crawford
Operations Manager
Total Loyalty Solutions, a Division of Gannett

I do not feel they are essential to company growth; however I think they need to be taken in to consideration when planning an advertising and marketing plan. Let’s face it, social networking is here and is hot right now. Whether it lasts remains to be seen, but for now they should be part of your company’s development.

Some companies block social sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace because they feel it takes time away from actual work being done. So for those companies they see it as a distraction to business. I personally feel that it is something that if monitored, could be an asset to a company’s growth. Viral marketing is a very valid and proven method to generate a buzz about a certain business or product. If you allow your employees to assist in promoting your business or product(s), you are getting a free form of advertising.

Of course you have to take the good with the bad, but by putting yourself out there and being seen as a company that cares about what the masses think, you are creating a better relationship with those that use your services or buy your products.

Where I would draw the line is to not allow it to overtake the other forms of advertising and marketing you currently utilize. It can be part of the plan, not the entire plan

John Wentworth
The Wentworth Company, Inc./Wentworth Recruiting

Twelve years ago or so, we did a search for the executive director of the Nevada Museum of Art. One of the three finalists was an art historian. When a member of the selection committee asked him how he evaluated contemporary art, the candidate demurred, making the point that only time will tell us which of today’s art is “good”, “good”, in an art historian’s eye, being perceived as relevant after time has passed.

I feel the same way about LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, et al. Only time will tell whether any one of them is a passing fancy or a durable advancement in how we communicate with each other.

I’m currently exploring Twitter and pretty much befuddled, making me think it will end up in the passing fancy box.

We, at Wentworth Recruiting, like LinkedIn because it’s a decent path toward candidates who would otherwise require laborious telephone networking to find. The good: we save time. The bad: we don’t find anyone we would not find anyway and we lose the opportunity for the serendipity afforded by a bunch of telephone conversations.

Marshall McLuhan divided communications into cold (LinkedIn) and warm (talking). In general, I prefer warm, although I acknowledge the cold communications can help get you to a productive starting place for the warm communications.

Jeremias Serna
Chenega Security & Protection Services

I had no interest in Social Networks prior to becoming a Recruiter. Even after that still little interest until I came to a position that I am struggling to fill. (Which I still haven’t, Senior Contracts Administrator, with Government Contract Experience, Ashburn, VA So now that I jumped in with every other recruiter, I am trying to figure out the “how to” of recruiting in social networks. I’ve read “Groundswell” by Josh Bernoff and about 1000 forums and webinars on the topic and next week at the SHRM Staffing Management conference will attend the “utilizing social networks” seminar. However, being new to this social networking game, so far I find it very time consuming and not too sure of results. I know MySpace is for kids, so I would never stoop to that. Twitter, although has been in the news quite a bit lately (Oprah), it seems to be headed in that same direction. Therefore as a recruiter I have focused in on LinkedIn and Facebook. But other than placing in the “what are you doing now” box the position I’m recruiting for, what else do I do to get that job out there? So to answer the initial question, are they a distraction to the company? Not yet. Beneficial to me? LinkedIn more than Facebook, but we will see if I can get some good networking going and not just responding to random forums. Which social networks are distractions? MySpace and Twitter seem like a waste of time to professionals, Facebook and LinkedIn seem they could be beneficial. But definitely not going to pay the monthly “in” fees.

David Bush, Ph.D.
Director of Graduate Programs in HRD and Professor of I/O Psychology
Villanova University

I make primary use of LinkedIn and secondary use of Plaxo. Enough. I find the Facebook and Myspace too distracting for professional use – they are an overload. The discussion groups on LinkedIn are useful and convenient. Some have too little to be useful and others have too many desperate people promoting their business or seeking a job. There should be special sites for such purposes. I would be quite happy to have just LinkedIn. My only request of LinkedIn is that they allow business members to pay by an annual invoice. Restricting payment to a credit card seems to make the operation seem amateurish.

David Armstrong
Technology Startup Consultant/Investor

I use my LinkedIn as my professional network. But since the beginning I have been very careful who I add and I haven’t been hesitant to remove people. I see networking as an honest relationship, not ‘the person with the most wins’. If I see 500+ connections, that is a turnoff to me most times. Even worse, when I get the ‘generic’ invite, if people can’t even take the time…whew. So I love LinkedIn, I use it every day, but my connections are solid, not loose. I use Facebook as my personal social network, friends, and family. I am careful about what I put there though.

Joanne Bintliff-Ritchie
Chief Strategist
DoubleStar, Inc.

Social networking is here to stay – which sites we can’t be sure yet. But the phenomena will grow to be an integral part of how we relate to others – customers, prospects, employees, colleagues, networks, family, friends, etc. How you use it is up to each individual and individual company, but the majority will find that if they do not consciously and actively determine how to incorporate this into their overall interaction strategy, outside forces will control that for you. Better to be in control. I use LinkedIn and Facebook both personally and professionally, but separately. I don’t want to mix my personal and professional lives, and I have different goals and purposes for each so it doesn’t make sense to have one identity. Both have successfully connected me with leads to help with both individual and business development. I also find them helpful in evaluating suspects to determine which are true prospects and warrant direct follow up. And Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with extended family and distant friends.

Karen Beck, SPHR
Human Resources Manager
Winzeler Stamping Company

I can’t really use the word “essential” to define the role of the social network in personal and professional development, but they sure make life easier for a small organization such as ours when trying to establish benchmarks. The only thing that has become a distraction from my perspective is how a few are somehow able to circumvent the system and rules to make unsolicited sales pitches. Not saying I don’t approve of self-promotion, but it becomes very difficult and time-consuming to filter out unrelated postings–typically from someone who thinks they’ve found the perfect avenue to sell their wares–from the legitimate responses to thread inquiries. From my experience there are several groups that monitor such activity, and even fewer who are successful in doing it.

Although I am relatively new to the social networking process, the most useful networks for me personally (besides this one) have been HR Net, LinkedIn – Wellness as a Business Strategy, and an industry-specific network my organization belongs to.

Chris Massaro
The Source

We primarily use LinkedIn, and use it a considerable amount. We use Facebook as well, but not as much. These are fantastic tools, but many people don’t use them as well as they could. The essence of networking is give to get. You have to help people, to build relationship, loyalty, and hence, will get better results. Many people break the cardinal rule of networking, and feel because they have this great new tool, it doesn’t matter. Also, you have to stay within 1 – 2 degrees of a network to be affective. If you stray too far out, those people not only don’t know you, they don’t know the person trying to make the introduction. The quality of the data, in your technology used, is crucial.

Sheryll Poris, GPHR, SPHR
HR Manager

I find LinkedIn to be the most widely used and most helpful to employers and employees seeking opportunities. I think it is because it seems to be geared towards professional networking. Also, the alumni groups of companies one has worked for can be very helpful. I find Facebook “distracting”.

Monie Hamilton, SPHR
Vice President Human Resources
Caltech Employees Federal Credit Union

Sure social networks are new and confusing to many of us, but let’s keep an open mind and give it a chance. We might even start to like it. In the last century, how many of you were using e-mail and carrying a cell phone? Now they are essential tools. Social Networks seem to be following the same acceptance path and soon will become as necessary as phones and e-mail are now. It is too soon to know which sites will dominate. Currently, I am using LinkedIn for professional contacts and Facebook for personal.

LinkedIn is definitely useful for my professional development. The discussion groups can be informative and supportive. However, my company blocks most employee use of social networking sites because we feel that it is too distracting. Cell phone text messages are enough of a problem! On a personal level, Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. Face-to-face contact isn’t always possible and playing phone tag gets old. Using LinkedIn and Facebook, I can reach people and maintain more contact than before I discovered the joys of social networking.

Bottom line, while it can be distracting and addictive, social networking is here to stay. Let’s embrace it and find ways to benefit from its use.

Lori Prince
HR Director
The American Board of Radiology

I find LinkedIn to be great for personal, professional use. The groups and discussion forums are helpful, and it is a wonderful way to obtain referrals from contacts located across the country. I have no use for Facebook or MySpace as networking tools. I only use them for personal communications with distant friends.

Nandini Munshi
Sr. Recruiter and Trainer

‘Professional Network’ as the meaning of the word suggests is a net of contacts generated where the nodes are individuals or organizations with some common business features to get linked. The nodes should be connected to build up the professional networks. This means one should get connected to other through networks. As an individual I would think networking is good and is effective in generating business provided we play judiciously and well. It helps getting referral and hence might lead to generating a big lead which might lead to a good business. The bigger the network the bigger will be your connection to the world outside the envelope of self/institution you belong to.

The word play well here means that we remain connected to those people who might work out in business or professional gathering. We generally believe in ‘first impression is the last impression’. We should not move in random and try connecting with lot of people at a go; instead we should understand where we would be able to maintain a connection and the link where we want to establish ourselves. This will have little less connections or nodes directly in touch with you but these nodes would be stronger ones than the random ones. This would be the judicious decision taken by you ‘with whom to get connected’. This also would lead to a thought and hence another decision ‘with whom not to get connected’. This thoughtful decision is the line being drawn by you. Even though networking is good, we sometimes feel that face-to-face meetings or gatherings are far more effective than networking.

Sometimes, some of the social networks which allow you to connect to anyone without restrictions lead to distraction. This also can be avoided by if we control to accept the requests. If the request seems to be in business with yours then there is no harm in connecting through. Professional networks like LinkedIn are majorly helpful for company. Any other network with same line of business would be liked by individuals. Social networks (Facebook or MySpace or Orkut) which allows us to connect to previous schoolmates or distant friends might be useful as we would be able to get connected to those whom we know are into similar domain but were not in touch for some years. Such networks could be labeled as second category, first category being the previous one as explained.

Daniel Kanouse
Executive Coach, Philadelphia PA
Take Charge Consultants, Inc.

I don’t use social networks beyond LinkedIn. They seem to be fine. I don’t like Twitter or others. They are mostly a distraction and I don’t use them. I think that for people in the profession a blog related to their specialty is a make sense way to go. If you want information about what is happening in the HR field, for example you can and should go to sites that gather and report that information and link you to other sites that can provide that information. Additionally I use journals and article related to the specific area where I have a need or an interest. The “social networks” are a distraction and I don’t use them. I have logged on to them and find that there is too much information that I am not interested in. I also have professional sites where I get relevant information like the OD National and Local Network or local and National ASTD. I am a psychologist so I go to the PA Psychological association and get info there. Additionally I get info from related sites in my professional area such as Coaching etc.

David Mezzapelle
Founder, Director of Marketing & Development

These networks are out of control and a topic we frequently discuss at our company.

We need to draw a line between “essential” and “overkill.” There are useful networks that have been instrumental in bringing us new clients as well as keeping our staff up-to-date on industry trends, best practices and more. The problem is that our staff is bombarded daily with invitations to join new networks. The other problem is proliferation of “groups.” It seems that joining a network is no longer enough. “Groups” or “sub networks” are forwarding invitations on a daily basis as well.

If we were to accept every invitation and participate in the related forums, we would be taking away from the core task of running our company. I hear this same compliant from other organizations as well.

I can’t speak for everyone but I do know that we all use LinkedIn, HRP Performance Sites and ERE. Our academic marketing team also leverages the power of Facebook to penetrate the applicable demographics. We are also building a team to manage a Twitter campaign because, quite frankly, I do not think we have much of a choice if we wish to be competitive.

Ning offers a great environment for organizations to create their own networks. However, many of these networks are at the core of the problem I mentioned above. The main networks and sub networks coming out of Ning comprise a majority of these “overkill” networks.

Bernadette Hill
Division Manager
Tri-Starr Staffing

Professional Networks – Where do we draw the line?
I think one has to evaluate the usefulness of all relevant networking sites and determine the couple that makes sense for them to utilize. The amount of sites out there is overwhelming and it’s easy to waste a lot of time maintaining profiles, etc…

Has the widespread growth of social networks become a distraction or are they essential to your personal and company development?
They are essential for my company’s development but not so for my personal goals. Being mindful about the amount of time spent on such sites and their ROI is essential.

Please include which social networks you need, use on occasion, could care less about, or find distracting.
Linked In – useful
Facebook – somewhat useful but more socially oriented than professional… Have the occasional use for it.
Twitter – The name says it all. I don’t dig it but it’s the new “in” site, so I have a presence on it. Takes a lot of time and that is a big drawback – only don’t fancy being “followed”.
My Space – no use since I’m over the age of 21

Eric Kramer
Chief Innovation Officer
Innovative Career Services

Remember when GOOGLE was just a plain square rectangle text box on a white page?

I believe we are seeing the early emergence of a new way of interacting and connecting. Right now there is a fire hose of information with only the beginnings of programs to organize and interpret the information.

Twitter is a good example. There is a huge volume of Tweets. Tweet search can look at all those Tweets and return real time information about what is being discussed. Some argue Tweet Search is more valuable than Google due to its immediacy. There are probably 50 Twitter Tools one can use to organize Twitter with more being developed every day. Twitters value will increase as its use and organization develops.

Right now all the various social sites can be overwhelming and confusing. Having to post information and updates in multiple places is time consuming. However, we are seeing the cross pollinating of information from one site to another with time they will all be linked. Post once and regardless of site your information will appear.

I do believe that nothing will replace the handshake, at least I hope for humanity’s sake there isn’t. However, online social networks will become more and more a part of how we engage others. We will also get better at using them and harnessing their power.

I am a big proponent of LinkedIn and I am an active Twitter user. I actually like being followed… maybe it’s the narcissist in me.

Donald F. Ashley
Marketing Capital Management (“MCM”)

LinkedIn is a valuable tool in the recruiting field where MCM participates. As for individuals I tend to see our younger associates being far more “linked in” than those of a later generation. Facebook seems to be utilized more for social networking and renewing old friendships. Over time I believe one or more of these networking sites will replace the bulky leather bound address book or the desktop rolodex.