The Intangible Risk and Opportunity: Your Network

I saw an interesting tweet from Mark Krupinski, a Community Manager at Rasmussen College, that really deserves it’s own post:

[“…When you hire someone,…you ‘hire’ his or her network…” -Mark Krupinski]

While this is certainly true in sales and recruiting (professional networkers), how does it apply to other jobs? What I often think about is the highly connected Generation Y millennials. While some of them certainly may not be as public as others (some of my millennial colleagues only “friend” those that they really know) they have access to a much larger network of FoaF (Friend of friends) acquitances all within one or two clicks.

Quantifying the worth of one’s network will be challenging, while it’s easy to measure the size of one’s network, what about quality and depth? I have a large broad network, but how many of these folks do I really know, or can say I have a close trusted relationship with? Without asking me (I do have an answer, by the way) how would a recruiter be able to figure this out?

Regardless of measurement, many of us will come to the workforce with our large networks with us, as a result, we’ll be pre-tied to colleagues, prospects, partners, and competitors. What plans will companies put in place to benefit from these relationships? Even if that 20 year old intern is not an ‘official’ representative of the company, they are very likely to indicate on their Facebook, Linkedin, and Blog where they work. They represent the company –officially or not — as soon as they self-identify their employer.

There’s both an opportunity and a risk for brands: Opportunity) Train, trust, and empower employees to be behave online just as a they would at the workplace. Risk) Do nothing and trust that your employees will separate what they do online from their company, or that they’ll always behave kosher.

Take for example this 20 year old UK worker who was fired for posting a message on a social networking site “F*ck the partnership” (in reference to his own company). The question remains was this worker fired for bad behavior on a social network? Or just being a bad employee?

In the end, our personal live (and networks) are colliding with our work lives, and online, many of us have to give a bit for both.