LinkedIn offers me "some ideas for conversations" with my contacts.
It informs me that a writer friend "is celebrating 36 years at various publications!"
If this were 1939, LinkedIn would remind us to "Congratulate Emmett Kelly on his nine years as a hobo!"
Back in the early 1990s, everyone was realizing that eventually the layoff would come and they'd need to find another job. Working was no longer enough. "Networking" also had to be done.
If you don't have 100 people in your Rolodex who will return your call in 24 hours, career consultant Marilyn Moats Kennedy used to tell conferences full of terrified communicators, "You aren't going anywhere."
How were you supposed to acquire all those career lifeguards? By assiduously networking—meeting people at industry events, getting to know them, staying in touch with them by sending nice notes and touching base with them through occasional phone calls. To some people, that came naturally. To most people, it sounded like a nightmarish second job. And when someone tried networking with you, you could smell the difference.
The Internet in general and LinkedIn particular have made it easier to find connections. But keeping in thoughtful touch with them is still on us—impossible to fake, and farcical to automate.