One of the most effective ways to boost your career and grow your business is to make use of your social network. This can be done with an online social network, as well as with an in-person social network. Your network can be a great career booster, since you can leverage who you know into a job — or at least an introduction to someone who can get you a job.
You have to be careful, though. Sometimes using your social network to find work can backfire on you. Additionally, helping members of your social network to find a job can also be a real problem, resulting in reputation damage.
Getting Stuck in a Job
One of the biggest problems with relying on your social network to help you find a job is that you could wind up getting stuck in a career you didn’t actually want. A friend may recommend you for a job, and you might feel guilty about leaving. You might take the job, not knowing what it entails, and then be disappointed when it doesn’t meet expectations. Or, something better might come along. However, if you quit, your friend’s reputation is on the line. He or she might get mad at you because your leaving can put them in a bad spot. At the very least, your friend went through the effort to get you hired, and you just left — throwing that work away.
Before you accept help from someone in your social network, make sure that you understand what the job entails, and make sure your friend understands what you are looking for. You want the opportunity to be a good fit, so it’s important to talk expectations, including how long you expect to remain with the job.
Another problem is that you might feel pressure to perform. What happens if you turn out to be a disappointment? You don’t want to disappoint your friend, or make him or her look foolish in front of co-workers and bosses. This can put stress on you, and cause other problems in your life. In some cases, problems at work can destroy a friendship.
Recommending Others Can Backfire
Once, I recommended a member of my social network for a job that I didn’t have time to do. I found out that the person I recommended engaged in some unethical behavior as part of the assignment. The client was understandably upset — and hasn’t contacted me since. I was disappointed in my social connection, and I lost business on top of it. My recommendation had a financial impact on me, as well as a limited impact on my reputation.
Making a recommendation is a big deal. Before you recommend someone for any job, make sure that you are sure you feel good about that person. Don’t recommend someone you don’t think will be a good fit, or that you don’t think will do a good job.
Using your social network can be a good way to hear of job openings, as well as help others advance in their careers. However, you have to be careful. In some cases, you could do more harm than good.