My wife made an intriguing statement as we were discussing my job search. Specifically, we were discussing the process of using my community contacts and blogging platform vs. the traditional method of applying for jobs via websites and waiting or a call from a recruiter. She asked me how did it feel to be in a “good old boys” club. I thought it funny at first. I’ve always pictured a good old boys club as a bunch of old guys smoking cigars in country club brokering deals that the rest of us couldn’t make because of lack of connections.
My initial response was to defend the community of bloggers and social media savvy geeks as just that a community of people who share ideas and knowledge. She points out that I have close friends that are in a search and don’t have the luxury of just broadcasting to a network that they are searching. My friends also aren’t able to leverage the power of community to source unlisted opportunities, in the same way that my platform allows. Sure they could open a twitter account and post that they are searching or change their LinkedIn headline to “Now Available” but she points the results would be much different than mine.
My wife’s argument was based partially on her perceptions from VMworld. We spent a lot of time with having lunch with attendees that don’t actively participate in social media or blog. She noted that a good number of people either knew me by face or knew of me via virtualizedgeek.com. Her argument is that those regular everyday engineers made up the majority of the conference. These were the guys that weren’t part of the good old boys club.
So, the question is, am I a member of a good old boys club or just an active participant in the community and leveraging that community? I believe the difference between the two are access. In a good old boys network, you normally have social and economic barriers to entry. In the community such as the extended IT infrastructure community, the only barrier is your willingness to share and interact.
While this vCommunity may have some of the same benefits of a old boys network it doesn’t have the same motivations which makes it different in essence.