The Humanity of Networking


By Mark A. Leon

In the spring of 2015, I was asked to represent my company as a speaker in San Francisco for Hirepalooza.  It was an honor to be asked to represent my company’s brand and image, but who would say no to speaking at a conference call Hirepalooza?

The few days I spent there speaking, listening and most importantly engaging, reminded me of the essence of recruitment.  From the resumes stored in file cabinets to Chrome Extensions allowing you to track down any human being, one element has remained over the years, the human relationship.

I went out there thinking everyone wanted to work for a start-up, work 100 hours a week for three to five years and then drive off into the sunset with their Tesla and big bag of money.  It turns out my stereotype was shattered.  What I did find were many intelligent young students and professionals that are struggling with the same concerns we all have about careers and the future.

During the conclusion of day one, I was sitting with two academic students during the post seminar networking event and I asked them both, “What Makes You Great”.  They both laughed and shrugged their heads.  Neither had an answer.  I continued saying that we are all filled with greatness.  It is a pool of passion, courage, risk and determination.  It is the combination of those energy sources that takes your from mediocrity to greatness.  Once you find your own personal inner greatness, you can’t ever not succeed in life.

I continued for several more conversations with these students even after I returned to the East Coast providing some level of counseling and advice.

This past Friday, I spoke with David, a UC Berkeley junior I also engaged with during this event.   This most recent conversation was a result of an email he sent me earlier expressing how discouraged he was with networking and the lack of connection.  Before I even said hello, I told David he was far too young to be this cynical and that life will get more and more challenging with the shift toward digital connections and away from human relationships.

This led into an hour and twenty minute candid discussion of which the entire time I was reminded of what an important connection I had made.

David is at least twenty years my junior, but I can learn as much from him about life than anyone else in my inner circle.  He is wise beyond his years and sees the world from a new digital perspective.  He was raised on the mobile phone, apps, computers and gaming.  I think Wiffle Ball, tag and running bases are foreign terms to him.


He sees the present from an immediacy perspective.  I see it from a watch the sunset and lay under the stars ideology.  He sees responsiveness as immediate based on sound bite approaches.  I see calculated responses based on research and understanding.

Still, we talked and talked and talked.  At the end of the conversation, he had to go pack for a trip to Oregon where he and some friends were going to be in the great outdoors without wifi for a few days.  It was a fitting reminder of what a life can be when you connect to all the elements.

I live in a world with 8000 LinkedIN connections, 2800 Facebook Friends, 12,000 Twitter Followers, 16,900 Instagram Followers, 2700 Pinterest Followers and 5 close friends.  I’m sure that sounds familiar to many.

I still believe in a common truth that human connection will always be the key to personal happiness.  I believed that when I chased my brother around the block on my bike when I was 10 years old and I believe that today.

David is that living breathing evidence of a connection I made in 2015 that remains strong today.   He sought me out for advice on careers and I learned a little about life.

At the end of the day, a tiny piece of electronics will make our lives easier, but human emotion will make it fulfilled.



Five Lessons Learned from Social Media Disasters

1. Be Aware Of How Your Employees Use Social Media
If you’re delegating your public forum to someone, make damn sure that the person knows what is expected out of them. In both Nestle and Tiger Airways mess, it was apparent that their Facebook pages are controlled by an authoritarian figure who only wants his/her way rather than listening to the consumer feedbacks.

2. Never Ignore Your Customers
By deleting all negative comments on your Facebook pages, you wished that no one would notice your actions but never forget that what’s shared on the Internet stays online permanently. Banning customers who are irrelevant to your brand is a sure-fire way to expose your brand is pretentious and insincere in building genuine relationships, despite utilizing social media tools like Facebook pages.

3. Never Insult Your Customers
Both these brands violated the basic rule of public relations, said BNET’s Rick Broida: “Don’t insult your customers.” Even if you disagree with the opinions shared on your Facebook pages, the least you can do is rectify it in a polite manner. The combative tone utilized by these brands resulted in even more continuous rants on their pages and from there the virality of social media snowballs the original issues to a bigger one.

4. Never Insult A community
One thing Nestle did that was downright moronic is to demand YouTube to pull the parody video off their site. That action sent shockwaves amongst the entire YouTube community; where users responded by making copies of the video and posting it to other different video sharing websites. Eventually, it led to even more backlashes on their Facebook page and Twitter accounts.

5. Respond To Each Customers Individually
In Tiger Airways’ case, their staff kept sticking to the mantra of “You get what you paid for” to answer almost all of their negative feedbacks. Definitely the easier route for them to take but for their customers, it’s definitely frustrating to get feedbacks without getting banned. And when I say respond to each customer individually, that doesn’t include banning the individuals who are giving negative comments to your page.
The above are a few lessons that I’ve picked up after analyzing the two case studies. Do you have any others? Do share with us.

From Video Resumes to Google Profiles: Personal Branding Tools

How to build your digital footprint on the internet.

Many by now heard the phrase “Digital Footprint”. What exactly is a digital footprint and how does it affect my professional future? Wikipedia defines Digital Footprint as “the data trace or trail left by someone’s activity in a digital environment. Digital footprints are the capture in an electronic fashion of memories and moments and are built from the interaction with TV, mobile phone, World Wide Web, Internet, mobile web and other digital devices and sensors.” puts it more simply: it is the trail you leave in cyberspace

In fact, EMC has developed a digital footprint software program to determine how many bytes of information you are responsible for since the start of year, based on a series of survey questions:

Be prepared, your number may be higher than the national deficit.

You may not realize this but your digital footprint is not segregated to social network communities. It includes Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Plaxo, Spoke, Flickr, Jigsaw, YouTube, WordPress, Ning, Linkedin, mobile uploads, text messaging, buzz, Google pages, My Yahoo, video uploads and much, much more….

There is a strong probability that this feature article will be fed out to Twitter, WordPress, industry specific blogs and Facebook before many wake up to read it for the first time.

Now that we have re-established that Big Brother is watching everywhere we turn, it is time to discuss how we can turn this around in a positive way to project an image that is a business model for your future professional development. Welcome to the Magical World of Personal Brand Development 101: The tools that will take you to the next level and beyond.

Before providing the tools you will need to survive in the internet jungle, please remember the following safety tips as you board the plane:

a) When developing a marketing strategy and personal brand, keep it simple. Remember that your audience will not know you, so you need to sell the specific skills, accomplishments, achievements and careers that will lay the groundwork for the foundation that is you. Don’t leave an audience guessing who you are.

b) Do not overextend yourself. Be very focused on the communities and social networks you become an “active” member. If you join too many communities you will not be able to do the uptake necessary to maintain your presence.

c) Be creative and continue to reinvent yourself and your skill sets. Don’t wait for a new trend to occur. Challenge yourself and set the trend ahead of the masses.

d) Stay fresh. Don’t get stale. In this day and age, we live in the now. Things are in real time and if you blink, they are gone. Keep yourself fresh and up to date. This part will not be easy, but it can pay handsome dividends.

Now that we got the safety features on this Boeing 787 out of the way, let us clear the runway and head for the clouds. Social Media has created a foundation to create a product, package it, campaign a marketing strategy and ultimately sell it to the highest bidder. That product is you.

1) Create a Google Profile Page. There are a number of search and Metasearch pages available, but currently Google accounts for almost 75% of all global searches. Why not use a profiling tool that was created by the largest search engine in the world. A Google profile page allows you to create a virtual business card that includes options for photos, a profile picture, places you lived, education, special skills, a bio summary and links to direct URL’s that are important to you (Facebook link, Linkedin profile, Twitter Account, Myspace, Plaxo, company website, personal blogs, resume URL, personal references). Once created, a URL business card (with a customizable name) is now at your disposal to share with potential employers as a voluntary means of looking at the complete you (

2) Create a blog. I strongly recommend WordPress ( for a number of reasons.

They have the best web analytics on the market for monitoring the traffic to your blog.

There is a Linkedin application aligning your WordPress blog directly to your profile page.

WordPress has a real time feed launching your blog updates to Facebook, Twitter and Myspace if you opt for it.

There is a subscription option that allows others to subscribe and receive notification emails when new blogs are published.

One of the safety tips mentioned earlier is staying fresh. A blog does not require a full-time commitment. Some write daily while others only a few times a month. The key is to be seen and heard. Hits equal exposure. As more and more people notice your blog and more importantly return, your reputation professionally will grow and others will be exposed to your words of wisdom. You are not expected to change the world, but to provide a little more insight into the world.

3) Become an active member of your industry community sites and get positive exposure. Many industry or skill specific communities have options to post blogs or white papers and some even feature the standout writing performances that show insight and bring value to the community. Become a member, align yourself with others that could benefit you in the future and get published. If you can do a research piece or write a commentary that others can share with their organizations, you will now have industry specific recognition.

4) Create a video resume. There are hundreds of video sharing sites including Vimeo, YouTube, Myspace, IFilm, Google Video and Buzznet that allow video content distribution. Right now the use of video resumes is a relatively new and radical approach to career transition strategy. Set yourself apart and sell yourself in a video. Do not upload and make readily available for the public. Be selective whom you share it with. Understand the culture of the company and determine if they value creative and unique personalities. This tool in your pocket could become very handy at the right time.

These four recommendations will only be a small part of your digital footprint, but will set you apart from your colleagues that may be sitting back on their laurels and relying on the comfort of routine. You will continue to reinvent yourself as the internet continues to evolve and your name and knowledge breath will glue itself to the digital framework and provide others with the understanding that you are a talented resource and you are here to stay.

Sit back, enjoy the right and once we land be ready to lay your footprint down.

Survivor: Recruiterville

This season of Survivor promises the most dangerous, unpredictable, cut throat competition you have ever witnessed. The challenges will be more complex, the contestants will stop at nothing for ultimate victory and the reward; more lucrative than any past season. This year’s Survivor will walk away with unconditional job security.

Is the sanctity of life the value we place upon ourselves of those whose lives we affect? We are the bearers of the future lifestyle of each and every candidate we touch. Whether that is through a simple interaction or months of developing relationships. We are a gateway to the ends defining the means.

What is the reward? When is victory found? Some Human Resource philosophers will argue never. As Talent Acquisition Specialists, we are on an endless pursuit. One without a beginning nor an end. Is this continuous circle an invitation to insanity or a calming effect on the track of professional excellence?

As we look around at the ambitious contestants we see signs of anticipation, anxiety, confidence, fear, apprehension and adrenaline. This season, the island will be filled with hunters who will be hunted by their own self-conscious. Prepare for a season of thrills and chills that you will never forget.

Each contestant will begin with a Recruiters Survival Kit which will include the following items:

1) CRM Tool
2) Legal Toolkit
3) Measurement/Metric system
4) Industry News Links
5) Social Networking Tools
6) Cultural and Translation Tools – Global Acquisition
7) A Compass

Challenge #1

Acquire the highest quality talent while reduce operating costs.

Now that should eliminate half the pool of contestants

Challenge #2

Develop a pipeline of talent and build a community of relationships that will enhance future acquisition needs for the next several quarters and years

Challenge #3

Transition from a traditional process orientated office role to a virtual social media global environment

Challenge #4

Develop a series of unique and creative sourcing techniques that take you out of your bubble and provide you with an edge on the competition

Final Challenge

Revolutionize the world of Talent Acquisition. Dare to change the evolutionary scale and set a new standard.

The field is in place and the island of Recruiterville with all its inhabitants are eager to witness the beginning of the elimination process. Can you feel the energy on the island?

Now for the M Night twist: Look in the mirror and look around you…You are a contestant. Welcome to Survivor: Recruiterville.

Strap on your best bandana and cargo pants. This is going to be a bumping ride but what a fun one it will be.

My Future in Recruiting

“In the great mass of our people there are plenty individuals of intelligence from among whom leadership can be recruited.” – President Herbert Hoover

Is recruiting about the research, relationship building and acquisition and training of talent or the potential for greatness?

My future in recruiting will be a manifestation of innovation and change. Planting the seed, nurturing and watching the tree of global unification grow is a horticulturalist dream. As the branches expand and leaves grace the stems with intellectual brilliance we find ourselves in the Talent community holding hands around this tree and embracing the future ahead of us.

Throughout my academic ride, professors stressed the importance of cultural awareness, business models, relationship building, training and adaptation. Taken that knowledge base and diversifying my career over industry sectors and geographic change, I have witnessed a collective understanding of the key factors that contribute to the greatness all companies have the potential to achieve.

Business Model 101 dictates the elements of a successful organization are built on the foundation of a mission, core values, policies and procedures, sustained culture, rewards and recognition and ethics. Putting that all aside, I have always viewed the one key element that will set brilliance ahead of mediocrity is human capital.

Those that have the key skills and competencies will help a company maintain a competitive edge but leadership is driven by risk, challenge, change management, collaboration, fiscal understanding, and cultural tolerance.

My future in recruitment is not only to play a roll in acquiring the talent that will drive my organization to become a benchmark in our industry and provide a return on investment to all our shareholders but to groom the next generation that will catapult us to standards of excellence.

I will build relationships through social networking, personal connections, collaborative efforts and integration into their professional and personal well being. Who I connect with now may have an immediate impact on the future of my company or a long term affect.

I believe in the mission of my company and its goal of promoting my personal growth and development and I feel strongly that with patience, technical resources, industry knowledge and presence, I will build a network that will continue to grow over time both domestically and globally.

My future in recruiting is about embracing the tools of social media, not being afraid to connect, and understanding the knowledge base that is launching the evolution of my industry.

I am excited about the prospects of the future. I believe talent acquisition are the pioneers of a new movement in business and we will set the standards and dictate policy moving ahead.

This is an exciting time of change.

The Spider Effect

Social networking is a set of communication channels that allows knowledge sharing, expertise and contact affiliations to harness and grow the global economy. We are all trapped in a web. Some remain stagnant as the web wraps itself around us while others continue to explore the endless possibilities of expansion and development.

The Spider Effect is the result of utilizing the social networking channels to achieve results in the backdrop of web technology.

I stand before you today sharing an example of the Spider Effect and how it was able to take a simple favor for a client and result in a solution implemented by some of the most talented experts in the field.

A former client of mine who is now with the Nycor Group in Minnesota reached out to me last week inquiring on recommendations for a Career Coach in Arlington, Virginia or Washington DC for a client of his. I being in South Carolina utilized my resources and reached out to three potential knowledge sources. I reached out to an internal partner from Hewitt who is located in Bethesda, Maryland, a contact who shares time with Virginia and New York City and a Career Coach and Online Radio Host in Melbourne, Australia. Are you following the path of virtual frequent flyer miles?

The Career Coach in Melbourne, Australia got in me in touch with the founder and CEO of in Washington, DC who is now in communication with my former client in Minnesota to seal the deal.

Is this the first example of global networking without personal gain to be documented? I believe that not the case, but the ability to surrounded one self with strong focused professionals on a global scale is what made this simple request a reality.

The initial request was the result of a favor, which led to a second favor, which led to utilizing a trusting relationship with professionals without personal or monetary gain and putting that all into a complex macro calculation results in a positive experience for all parties.

Social networking continues to grow and panels and industry leaders document the advantages and disadvantages of the next industrial revolution. Thousands of technologies will rise and few will survive but I would like to share some of the simple tools and reminders of being a successful part of this new revolution.

1.) Surround yourself with diversified, focused and successful individuals that can push you to continue to harness yourself professionally. Do not stay industry specific or regionally narrowed but allow yourself to partner with individuals outside of your professional bubble. The sharing of knowledge wealth and concepts could provide that competitive edge that will put you above the rest.

2.) Stay focused and simplified. Do not try to dive into to many web portals or online communities. Find a select few that work for you and show an ROI for yourself or your organization and grow those networks

3.) Explore the realm of the unknown. Do not be afraid to try and fail. There are many cost effective solutions in the information superhighway. Invest in an opportunity you feel can become great and let yourself succeed or fail. If you fail grow from it.

4.) Never lose touch with the element that made this virtual empowerment possible: The human element. Stay in touch via phone, email, letters or networking events. You can get lost in an electronic world.

5.) Read and educate. There are so many free resources on the web (white papers, presentations, articles) that can provide new perspectives on understanding the operation of business. Use them.

6.) Visibility. Find your niche and expose it. If you have a writing talent; publish a blog. If you background is research get a white paper out there. Are your hidden talents photography or music then let the internet promote your special abilities. I am not saying become an internet celebrity but don’t be afraid to give yourself a pat on the back and let others know who you are. With Google Profiles, Slide Share, Twitter, YouTube and many other personal networks you have the ability to create a brand and grow with it.

Is this the complete recipe for success; no. There are many articles on how to take advantage of the Social Networking boom and I advise you to read as many as possible. Once you look in the mirror you will see two things: 1) Who you are and 2) Who you want to be.

Develop a marketing plan for branding your image and then set a plan to implement. Remember you are your own product and consumer is right in front of your keyboard.