Networking

I’m suddenly feeling very sociable.

While exploring fulltime, traditional office employment opportunities, I’ve also been filling my time with a variety of freelance work, stretching from writing to editing to project management. I can get into details later when some of these things become real or the people I’m doing the work for are okay with my talking about it.

I’ve been tasked with helping find talent for two different clients which has me going out into the worldwide web on the hunt. To accomplish some of this, I find myself suddenly joining various social and professional networking sites.

It all began with LinkedIn, a professional networking site. For the longest time I was accepting invitations to link and connecting with colleagues from across my life – college, Gist, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, the convention circuit, etc. As a networking tool, though, it hasn’t quite helped me on the job hunt. The few times I’ve reached out to people to find out more or gain an edge on some job prospects, I never heard back. On the other hand, I know I facilitated some connections that benefited others so the network remains valid.

Networking, he lectures, is essential from the moment you start college or begin a job, even summer employment. One never knows where a casual encounter or meeting may lead to something down the road. Other than Starlog Press, every single job I’ve had since has been a result of knowing people in my network. If I return to a fulltime job, it’s likely because of a networking opportunity.

Following this was my need to actually join MySpace in order to read Christina Aguilera’s blog while writing her bio for Rosen Books. I’ve had little need to visit there although browsing the pages of my acquaintances has been diverting. I’m not moved to actually decorate my page.

But then came bebo, a purely social site that I joined at the invitation of Rich Johnston, muckraker supreme. Turns out the invitation was sent to hundreds of comic book professionals in error, but I joined anyway and find I check it rarely.

But, now that I need to find talent, I have joined ComicSpace so I have yet another resource to tap. Similarly, in support of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, I finally succumbed and accepted their invitation to join facebook. Once they opened the gates to allow anyone in, I’ve resisted entering a realm both kids occupied. Since joining a few weeks back, I’ve reconnected with friends, gotten downright silly at times and hope to leave my kids alone.

Still, if we spend all this time on these sites, poking one another, linking from one group to the next, one wonders, will we ever need to leave the computer? These sites, to me, are tools, adjuncts to actually getting out and talking to people. The sociable sodas after RTM meetings do more for me than mass e-mails to my fellow representatives. Sure, LinkedIn and even Facebook allow me to stay in contact with people I can’t see because of distance, but there have to be limits.

Unless this is really the next evolutionary step in social discourse. If so, I’m more than mildly concerned.

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