Social Inertia Slows Your Growth

Social Inertia Slows Your Growth

I recently shared a discovery with a colleague. We both checked how our profiles are being found on LinkedIn. The way recruiters and others find us both is through… search terms that have been relevant to our work 10 years ago… Ouch!

Social Inertia

Now it’s possible we neglected our self-promotion on this once-cool platform. But even if so it shows a certain phenomena: information about what we do well propagates slowly among people. I call this social inertia.

LinkedIn keyword search

When you think about it it’s natural. People will always have an outdated image of us. After they learned about what we do and the skills we mastered, we have already moved on to something else. It’s like with children. Once you adjust your mental image of them they already jumped ahead.

Similarly, a book author is in a strange position. When their creation is finally available in print they already do something else. As one author said, “when promoting a book, I’m promoting myself from 3 years ago”. Another example is in restaurants. In the olden days when one used to open a restaurant it took around 2 years for potential guests to get a chance to hear about it, try it out and perhaps make a new habit of eating at that new place. In other words you needed 2 years of loosing money before the new restaurant idea was validated as success or failure. (These days you can accelerated with social media, but it’s another story).

They don’t know what we want

Information about you in your network

This got me thinking. After all we want to be recognised for what we do well now, what interests us now. The best possible scenario is to get a job or a project that will stretch us, because it’s slightly above our current capabilities. Such projects pull us ahead and accelerate our future.

And yet, we’re being known for what we’ve done a long time ago. The further a person is in our social graph, the more outdated their image of us is. You can feel that meeting an old friend when she asks if you’re still working at the company X doing Y, when you moved on from that many years ago…

There is a saying:

The amount of success in life depends on the number of people who know what you do well.

So this is a holy grail in our professional life. To be recognised for our recent successes and awarded project which allow us to go where we wanna go next.

Self promotion

For now there’s no other way to do it than the daily grind of self promotion. Yeah, I cringe at this word too. Let’s call it network updating. It starts with having the Ln profile updated with what we really do right now. With our newly acquired skills. It should also mean pruning all the outdated keywords and technologies we don’t use anymore. It’s a bit scary to do so, after all this set of skills amassed in our career is our shield from unemployment, right? Well it’s either, or. Either you’re known for the old stuff or you push ahead and kill your darlings I guess.

The same goes for other ways of network updating - meeting people, telling them where you head. Blogging, instagramming and speaking. All of the above probably. It all can be seen as a nasty self promotion. But I don’t think there’s any other ways of getting to be known for what we wanna be known.