Wednesday I attended a 3t Systems network-security seminar in Denver. The speakers were experienced IT-industry veterans who talked about important security issues, such as intrusion detection and social engineering.

But when I sat down with one of the speakers, Stacey Dumas, 3t Systems' chief information officer, we didn't talk about firewalls and black hats, we talked about the difficulties IT shops face finding and keeping good, young IT professionals. The fact that an acknowledged security expert wanted to talk about personnel issues made me think about how big an issue it has become.

We also talked about how today's young IT professionals network and communicate through trusted social networks, such as online forums and social networking Web sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

So when I saw a press release today announcing Affinity Circles launch of its inCircle Recruiting tool, I paid attention. On the surface, it looks like a way for companies to leverage the incredible rise of online social networking to source qualified IT staff.

According to the company's Web site, Affinity Circles develops private, secure, and interactive online community platforms for closed social organizations, such as alumni associations, which don't offer membership to the general public. Some of Affinity Circle's customers include the Indian Institute of Technology, Harvey Mudd College, and the Asia America MultiTechnology Association (AAMA).

According to the press release, inCircle Recruiting is a candidate-sourcing tool that lets employers target media campaigns at Affinity Circles' 145 alumni and professional networks, which the company says includes 15 million degreed professionals. The employers get access to candidates with authenticated identities and educational backgrounds, and the community members get access to career opportunities that aren't widely advertised. The beta-version was released in September 2007, and the press release says over 20 companies are on board, including Juniper Networks.

The inCircle Recruiting tool is subscription-based with six-month and one-year terms. A subscription includes the ability to source an unlimited number of candidates. You can request an inCircle Recruiting demonstration at affinitycircles.com/products/recruiting/request.html.