I've almost seen as much talk about social networking software as I have about blogging. I guess you could consider blogging as social networking, but what I am talking about is spoke, linked in, etc.
Initial buzz was that these tools could be potentially advantageous to recruiters in terms of finding people in the industry and making a connection. In my opinion, that is half right. What these tools are best at is housing a database of people with their company name, title and contact info. Given that data, what good recruiters are going to use a tool to link through X number of people to call the candidate? Exactly none. We call the candidate directly...we're not shy. I don't need an introduction...I'm just fine saying “Hi, I am Heather and I work at Microsoft...have you thought about working at Microsoft?“ (OK, that's a little corny but you get the point).
So here's how recruiters should use the spoke and linked in type of tools:
1) keyword searches. Haven't heard me talk about keyword searching enough right? If you want to be found (and really, who doesn't want to be found for one reason or another?), make sure your bio is in there and full of the good key words.
2) being searchable. I want to make sure all the good marketers out there know who I am and these tools let me do that. The downside of this is that I have had a bunch of people I don't know contact me because they want to be my connection. If someone was looking for a position, though, I hope they would use these tools to go and find recruiters contact info and e-mail me directly.
Sometimes the best use for a tool isn't the exact user scenario that was envisioned. That's cool with me. All I need is to know who the good marketing people are and I'll call them. I don't need some application polling my hard drive. But it does make me wonder if their product managers realize that what they have developed is a really great leads database for recruiters. And I wonder if job seekers know to be in there.