“Social networking is a fad.”  “It’s for kids – it’s not the real world.”  Etc, etc.  I hear that a lot from people, and I get where they’re coming from – frankly, there are waaaay too many social networks out there, and it’s easy to poke fun at them.  I certainly have.

All that said, what is a social network?  Just another way for us to say “hi, I’m alive.  Acknowledge that.”  If that’s the case, then primitives sitting around a fire, twittering about saber tooth tigers, were in a social network.  Hell, Lascaux was just the original Wall.  And, the parents of those punks around the campfire were probably muttering to each other “This fire thing’s just a fad.  It’s not the real world, it’s not safe.  They need to start sleeping back in the trees with us.”

So a social network’s simply another way to communicate.  Yes, yes, there’s more to it than that – questions about teens creating entire fake identities of people they aren’t capable of being in real life are troubling, but then most things that teens get up to are troubling.  And that is in no way a new phenomenon – there are credible theories that language was created by children at play, who then carried that forward and applied it to to coordinating hunts and the development of villages as they grew up.  I can only imagine what their non-verbal parents made of all the weird clicks and grunts their kids were using.

What’s my point – why in the world is a job search advice blog waxing (pseudo)philosophical about evolution and social change?  In part, because I like to hear the sound of my own voice (hey – this is a blog, and that’s what ties bloggers together, after all).  But also because I do have a point to make that ties into job search.

Earlier this week I decided to expand my search for a Senior Marketing Manager with heavy direct marketing chops to Facebook.  I did a search for “direct marketing” and got a bunch of results.  I sent messages to a bunch of them, and now have very viable candidate coming in on Monday for an interview.  I liked his background, personal interests seemed, well, interesting, there was nothing too shocking about him in his profile, and he clearly knew how to write.  I read further, and saw that his job had been eliminated (along with 80% of his company) the day before, and he had written about it on (you guessed it) his own Wall.  If he hadn’t set that profile up and actively updated it, there’s a good chance I never would have found the guy.  You owe it to yourself to be active on the social networks – at the very least, spend a couple of hours one night setting up profiles with ZoomInfo (shameless plug), LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.  Make sure you have your work history, little bit about yourself, and ways you can be reached (create a new gmail or hotmail or whatever if you want to keep your personal one private).

You may not be looking for a job now, but you never know when that sudden 80% force reduction might hit you like a shovel in the back of the head.  Best to be prepared.  If you are, the day after the shovel hits you might get a call from out of the blue, from somebody offering to help you back up off the ground…