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You ain't nothing but a network in the sky

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Fill it up with your Facebook friends.

Good story from the New York Times for anyone who considers him or herself a road warrior and dislikes losing potentially productive travel time to a random conversation with a seatmate: airlines are beginning to allow passengers to use their social-networking profiles to choose seat companions. Here's a salient section:

Relative latecomers to the social media party, airlines are quickly becoming sophisticated users of online networks, not only as marketing tools, but as a low-cost way to learn more about their customers and their preferences. With Facebook alone claiming nearly 500 million daily active users — more than 60 times the eight million people who fly each day — KLM and others are betting that many of them would be willing to share their profiles in exchange, say, for a chance to meet someone with a common interest or who might be going to the same event.

The idea is catching on. Last year, Malaysia Airlines introduced MHBuddy, an application that allows users who book and check in via the carrier’s Facebook page to see whether any of their “friends” will be on the same flight or in their destination city at the same time. The platform, which claims 3,000 monthly active users, also enables existing friends to select seats together.

And airlines are not the only ones betting on the concept.

Planely, a Danish start-up, allows registered users who submit their itineraries to view the Facebook and LinkedIn profiles of others who will be on flights with them. Since it began in late 2010, Planely has connected more than 1,500 travelers, according to its chief executive, Nick Martin.

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Unemployment crisis: More jobs means more networking

LinkedIn Corp.'s IPO Awaited On Wall Street

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I went on "The Patt Morrison Show" today, joining Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute to discuss the good December 2011 jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We spent some time talking about how to go about looking for a job, in industry where there's hiring happening — such as sales and technology. 

Networking is essential. But you have a lot of networking options these days. You probably don't want to neglect any of them. Good old-fashioned "pressing the flesh," making sure you talk to friends and professional contacts, still makes sense. But taking advantage of social networking can also connect job-seekers with employers.

LinkedIn — the business-oriented social network that staged an IPO in 2011 — has become an extremely useful in this respect. It's optimized to present candidates to HR folks who like to see references, resumes, and take a gander at the kinds of connections that prospective employees have developed.

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