How many “friends” do you have?

How many FaceBook friends do you have? How many LinkedIn connections? How many followers on Twitter? Many people today are focused on the numbers of social media sites. They are addicted to schmoozing online, excited to add more contacts to their lists, proud to have others see their numbers. When I speak to job seekers about their search, they also talk about how many job ads on monster they answered and how many hours a day they spend on other job boards, etc. So what is their bottom line I want to know, for all of this counting? What “numbers” are these connections, friends, and followers yielding in terms of interviews?

I wonder, how many of these friends can help them during a job search? How many of these connections or followers would speak to them on the phone or meet them for coffee to help them? How many of them are comfortable sharing the name and contact information of a colleague of theirs who would also be willing to sit down with the “friend” and perhaps counsel them on their job search?

I recently spoke with a 40-something job seeker who told me that he sent out 10 letters for jobs and got three interviews out of it. He was embarrassed that he had only sent out 10 letters to date and wanted an opinion on how to do better than 30%. Now, we can all improve our hit rates, but I told him that a return of 30% in this economy was really great and I wanted to know more about these 10. So, he went on to describe how he got to those 10. Each one of them was a key decision maker in the company of interest and he was referred to each one specifically by different trusted colleagues. Now that is a quality connection…a real friend…someone to follow…not just a number.

You know what I am going to say here, right? It is about the relationship. It is about face to face, personal relationships. It is about the quality. How many friends do you have?