Content provided by Rusty Vanneman, CFA, CMT, CLS Chief Investment Officer

I had lunch with Reid Hoffman once. It was fascinating. Reid is known for lots of things, including being the co-founder of LinkedIn, which is arguably the most important social media tool, especially for investment professionals.

My opportunity to have lunch with Reid came when I served on the Board of Overseers for Babson College (my alma mater) in Wellesley, Massachusetts. For a grand graduation ceremony one May several years ago, I was fortunate enough to put on the formal robes and walk into the beautiful outdoor tent along with faculty and prominent alumni for the graduation procession and presentations. In short, it was a really cool experience.

Reid was the featured graduation speaker that day. I was truly impressed by his intellectual curiosity and comments both on the stage and during our lunch. Many of his thoughts are captured in his book, “The Start-Up of You,” which is, refreshingly, an easy and engaging read.

One key point that Reid stresses is we are living in a networked age. In fact, his latest book, “The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age,” is considered another must-read by many. Here is an excerpt from its description on Amazon that captures the essence of the book:

The employer-employee relationship is broken, and managers face a seemingly impossible dilemma: the old model of guaranteed long-term employment no longer works in a business environment defined by continuous change, but neither does a system in which every employee acts like a free agent.

The solution? Stop thinking of employees as either family or as free agents. Think of them instead as allies.

As a manager you want your employees to help transform the company for the future. And your employees want the company to help transform their careers for the long term. But this win-win scenario will happen only if both sides trust each other enough to commit to mutual investment and mutual benefit. Sadly, trust in the business world is hovering at an all-time low.

We can rebuild that lost trust with straight talk that recognizes the realities of the modern economy. So, paradoxically, the alliance begins with managers acknowledging that great employees might leave the company, and with employees being honest about their own career aspirations.

By putting this new alliance at the heart of your talent management strategy, you’ll not only bring back trust, you’ll be able to recruit and retain the entrepreneurial individuals you need to adapt to a fast-changing world.

These individuals, flexible, creative, and with a bias toward action, thrive when they’re on a specific “tour of duty”—when they have a mission that’s mutually beneficial to employee and company that can be completed in a realistic period of time.

The book’s primary audience is management. While I would argue it’s still a read for anybody who works, “The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career” relates to the individual. Here’s a snippet from its description on Amazon:

LinkedIn co-founder and Chairman Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha show how to accelerate your career in today’s competitive world. The key is to manage your career as if it were a start-up business: a living, breathing, growing start-up of you.

Why? Start-ups – and the entrepreneurs who run them – are nimble. They invest in themselves. They build their professional networks. They take intelligent risks. They make uncertainty and volatility work to their advantage. 

These are the very same skills professionals need to get ahead today. 

This book isn’t about cover letters or resumes. Instead, you will learn the best practices of Silicon Valley start-ups, and how to apply these entrepreneurial strategies to your career. Whether you work for a giant multinational corporation, a small local business, or launching your own venture, you need to know how to:

* Adapt your career plans as you change, the people around you change, and industries change.
* Develop a competitive advantage to win the best jobs and opportunities.
Strengthen your professional network by building powerful alliances and maintaining a diverse mix of relationships. 

Find the unique breakout opportunities that massively accelerate career growth.
* Take proactive risks to become more resilient to industry tsunamis.
Tap your network for information and intelligence that help you make smarter decisions.

Of course, the book strongly promotes the use of LinkedIn. But it’s good advice, even if the author is a little biased. Embracing this social media platform and improving your profile is a must in today’s economy. Doing so is a win-win for you and the company you work for. It provides an online curriculum vitae and a tool to showcase your brand and skills, while also allowing your company to show off its talent to current and prospective clients. Building your network is not only a publicity campaign for yourself, it’s a promotional tool for your company.

How do you improve your LinkedIn profile? There are so many helpful sites available with a quick Google search, but here’s one I like:

So, get after it! When you meet new business associates, or ones you want to meet, reach out to them via LinkedIn as soon as you can. Keep your profile clean, up-to-date, and growing. In this networked age, you need to do this — not only to get ahead, but to prevent yourself from falling behind.

Thanks for reading. Stay balanced.