Who's worthy of going in your contact database in Outlook, your cell phone, your social network, etc.? What should be the criteria so you don't end up with 500 e-mail addresses and can't remember who half the people are?
British anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, is famous for his hypothesis that the human brain’s ability to manage friends and acquaintances taps out at about 150 people. It’s called Dunbar’s Law.
Robin Dunbar never met Mugs Buckley.
Buckley is a new media consultant and the founder of MugsTV with more than 500 contacts on LinkedIn, 400-plus friends on Facebook, and another 500-plus on Plaxo. That's not to mention the 1,000 e-mail addresses saved in Outlook. She is a self-confessed networking junkie. “It’s made me more glued to my computer. Keeping up is not for the faint of heart,” says Buckley.
It does beg the question, however: what does she do with all those contacts?
“What’s nice is when I pick up the phone to call someone, I can look up their profiles to see who we might know in common. It helps me fill in the blanks. I see it as a requirement before I call,” says Buckley.
Senior executive recruiting consultant, Tony Briley, who has more than 3,400 contacts among his various social networking accounts, would agree. “I would definitely say that in the past five years professional networking has become even more important to my career development and success. I have personally utilized networking connections to find all of my new consulting assignments with clients like Google, Microsoft,
RealNetworks, Blockbuster Online, Dell, Match.com, and Cisco Systems."
Briley, who specializes in targeted executive recruiting using data mining and competitive analysis, offers the following tips to manage all those contacts:
Building and leveraging contacts
Hundreds, even thousands of professional contacts likely sound daunting to the executive just starting out with a dozen friends from their last job on LinkedIn and even fewer college classmates and weekend buddies on Facebook. Don’t be disheartened. It just means being a little bolder about issuing out those network invitations and making it as automatic as asking for a business card in the old days.
“It’s just part of how I do business now. I make contact with someone by e-mail for the first time and follow up by inviting them to join my network. On any given day I now get at least one invitation from all the major channels. It adds up. It’s very viral,” says Buckley
As for leveraging those new contacts, social networking offers a myriad of ways to do business that were never possible even five years ago, including these:.
Who needs a head hunter
For those who still haven’t seen the light about using social networking for professional networking, Briley likes to tell the following story:
A few years ago, Briley was contacted by a former colleague from RealNetworks. The colleague was looking for a director of human resources position in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through Briley’s network of friends and colleagues, he connected and landed a job with a then unheard of start-up called YouTube that had a posting on LinkedIn trying to recruit its first human resources director. Six months later, YouTube was bought by Google. As for Briley’s colleague, his pre-IPO stock options are now worth about eight million dollars.
Not all Cinderella stories are fairy tales.