Networking while employed and performance appraisals are becoming increasingly ineffective due to the explosive growth in professional transparency. As recently as seven years ago, unless the subject of your search was your favorite movie star, rock star, or politician, your ability to find details about another individual was challenging. This was not due to your faulty research skills – information about an average individual simply did not exist publicly. In fact, information about others was so absent in the not-too-distant past, the thought of seeking out personal or professional details regarding another person would not have even occurred to you.
Today, individuals you have never met, from anywhere on the globe, are instantly finding out more about you than any other time in human history. Whether they are at their desk in a towering glass office building, sequestered in their basement at their suburban home, or lounging at their favorite cappuccino bar, they can instantly access volumes of information about you with only a few keystrokes. Fortunately, some of this information is beneficial to your profile. Unfortunately, some of this information you would prefer to keep private.
Recently, I attended a social media presentation that was hosted by the president of a regional marketing organization. To show the power of Google, one of his colleagues googled the president’s name as the president was speaking, and a lot of information appeared behind him on a screen. Unfortunately, one of the items on the screen was a link to a court document detailing his recent divorce. Although it was in clear view to the audience, this leader never turned around to see the link and his colleague never said a word. I doubt that this is information he would have chosen as a backdrop during his presentation!
At the same time, you are able to tell people about yourself with greater ease than ever before. If you go back a few short years, before Facebook and Google, the ways to share information about your accomplishments and background were limited to a resume. Your primary strategy was face-to-face, one-by-one conversations with others. Transparency was low. With technology like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and YouTube, you have the ability to increase your personal and professional transparency and instantly share information about yourself with millions of people.
At the same time, organizations across the globe are seeking ways to increase employee transparency. Technology is providing organizations the ability to build internal platforms (ala Facebook and LinkedIn) that allow their employees to build a profile and share information about themselves that are critical to the business. Employees can post a picture, and list their competencies, certifications, degrees, sample projects, work history, and interests. Internal decision makers, hiring managers, and colleagues can subsequently mine for talent internally before looking externally.