Boy in a Bubble

I’ve been living in a social world for the last couple of years or so, it’s a bit like living in a bubble…free from naysayers and doubters.  

A lot of the new connections that I have made have originated from, or because of, social media. Most are business connections, but quite a few are social, in the traditional sense! My social life certainly now encompasses a richer mix of characters and activities (I mean…camping with someone who’s name you don’t even know!) and all of this has helped increase my belief in the power of the medium.

It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened. I started using social media platforms for communicating and it just grew. A lot of the words that we use to describe good social media communicators – enabler, encourager, connector, facilitator, conversationalist, networker – have often been used to describe me at different times in my career.

In truth, I have almost certainly always been like this. I have never been the classic door opening sales person, more of an engager and relationship builder. It has served me well…as you will read elsewhere on this site, I have been a billing recruiter – month on month, year on year – for 20 years, and you can’t really do that unless you can develop long term, trusting, value add relationship.

If I can continue blowing my own trumpet for just a moment, I would say that the social world suits me and plays to my strengths. I enjoy the small talk. And sometimes there’s no obvious ROI on small talk.

Now that I’m on the job market, my modus operandi is more open to scrutiny. How do I build relationships? What relationships can I bring with me? What’s my track record? And…

What do I see in this social media thing?

Ah yes, social media is never far away from the conversation. Clearly, I have set myself on a mission to find a job socially and am really pleased that so far I have had quite a bit of interest without really having applied for anything specific as yet. There is one opportunity that has really exciting possibilities, and which would be quite different to what I have done before, and would be pretty much all social. Whether it will come off I don’t know. It may require too big a leap of faith, or it may just be the right thing at the wrong time. What I do know is that it has been really great to talk to a fantastic business about social media…its potential, its power, its opportunities and its scope.

My other meetings have been with niche recruitment businesses – not surprisingly within the HR niche – and I have been impressed with some of the ideas and values that I’ve been hearing about. One in particular this week has really interested me, offering a slightly different model that I think could well be enhanced with a social slant.

Of course the challenge in joining a recruitment business will be in finding the right fit. I know that I can add value, irrespective of how many ’live’ relationships I can bring, but conversations inevitably turn to social media.

With the opportunity that I mentioned earlier this has not been a problem, as the whole raison d’etre of having the discussion has been to utilise my social media abilities. However, when I’m talking to recruitment agencies then the social media angle has been different…in reality I have felt that I have to justify it. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogging or just a belief in social recruiting.

This is a shame. Most people reading this blog will have found it through a social channel, in fact the blog itself is certainly part of the social recruiting mix, yet in the wider recruitment universe there still seems  a scepticism, a distrust, a disbelief…it’s as if people are hoping the whole thing will go away.

The other day I was told by the MD of a recruitment business that he would believe in Twitter when someone could show him the ROI of a tweet. I said…

“I can’t show you the ROI of one tweet or of a series of tweets. But what I do know is that tonight I will almost certainly be talking about rock music with the European Head of Resourcing of a global financial services brand. I’ve been to gigs with him and I’ve been camping with him. I’m due to be going to a party with him and with the HR Director of a FTSE 250 company this weekend. I first connected with them both through Twitter. I could have been cold calling them for 2 years and still be trying to have a meaningful conversation”

It’s all about the conversation, about engaging and talking not just broadcasting and selling. Social isn’t the only tool in the box, and it’s not the only one I use, but it sure helps in building real relationships.

I’m convinced that the bubble will pop and more businesses will embrace it. Not sure if my bank manager believes it…but for now, he’s not asking!