Don’t wait to use networking as a tool to be pulled out in a crisis. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ proactively to build new business relationships and career opportunities.
Successful networking means a couple of things. It’s about being connected to the right people through the right channels and being active in the right communities with the right content. Does that sound complex? Well, we just named only a few activities that are important for anyone looking to grow a business or boost their professional career online. If you feel perplexed, read the following to learn about the advantages of using the various social networking sites.
You’ve probably heard about Twitter being referred to as an open networking social platform. ‘Open’ means that you can connect and get connected to anyone regardless of your previous relationship. If you follow people in your target market, you are likely to find and meet relevant contacts that can become your business partners or future clients.
Open also means that you should not be afraid to tweet things from your personal life. Instead, tweet so that you let people know you as a real person. In order to help people understand your interests and profession, pay extra attention to filling out your bio. It enables you to express yourself only in 160 characters, so make sure to use them all! If you have a blog, add a link in your bio and regularly tweet out links to articles on your blog.
Remember not to get completely obsessed about building up a Twitter follower base. More important than the number of followers is how engaged they are. Among other things, this also means paying attention to conversations and questions you get asked via Twitter. Read more about the Twitter Engagement Rate here.
While Twitter gives you an international reach without much of the ability to control it, Google+ comes up with circles, which do a lot of cutting through the noise for you. G+ not only lets you create circles that suit your needs but also allows you to target the audience, which is most probably interested in your content. By doing this, you are perfectly positioned to engage your followers and build your personal credibility. Thanks to the circles, many users actually say that they are able to find the most relevant information only on Google+. So, if you are already active on G+, carry on!
LinkedIn is the most used social network for your professional life. It is your online CV and place where you can connect with your industry peers, potential or current clients as well as headhunters and recruiters. Therefore your LinkedIn profile must be well managed and contain important milestones in your education and career.
If you are actively looking for a job, pay attention to fill out your expertise and skills and add a line to your summary saying e.g. “Finance professional with management consulting skills looking for opportunities.” If you are still employed, you should be more strategic and opt for gentler alternatives. This might be to state that you are interested in investment, marketing, law, or whatever your focus is. Beware not to add too many focus areas, as those would make you sound desperate.
How to build more connections
If you are an experienced professional willing to give advice or you are interested in meeting new people, add your email address for others to see it. Not everyone has a Premium LinkedIn account, so by adding your contact details, you are showing that you are approachable, which can bring you interesting and valuable connections. In this case, you may wish to show your personal rather than work email. When someone contacts you at your personal email, you can decide whether to respond or not. On the other hand, your incoming business or work emails should not be left without a response.
Do LinkedIn groups work?
Many professionals searching for new opportunities enter multiple groups from their business area. It is not usual that people end up in 30–40 groups in a hope to get contacted by a recruiter. In reality, these groups don’t work. The problem, for instance in finance is that the groups are filled with wannabes and experienced career switchers would tell you that they never got an email from a headhunter while relying solely on this channel.
On the other hand, LinkedIn groups work well for professionals in marketing who are looking to give their business more visibility. Social media marketing bloggers can share a link to their recent article with many relevant marketing groups. In this case, add a short description to your link so that people from a particular group understand what your article is about and can comment on it.
Think like a headhunter
There are two important things to keep in mind, if you want to get contacted by a headhunter: location and a brand name employer. If you are searching for a job in New York but you are based in Europe, you have almost zero chance to be approached by a NYC headhunter. For those guys it is important that you actually are in the city where you want to pursue your career, otherwise it’s just a waste of time. Likewise, they are searching for candidates who have already worked for a brand name employer. What a brand name employer is differs from industry to industry, but as a general rule you need to have some previous experience with a well-established company. Of course a vital precondition to get contacted by a headhunter is to have your LinkedIn profile pixel perfect.
Tip: Don’t add headhunters to your contacts! It’s not necessary at all. It’s ok to have one or two in your network, but the bottom line is that if you meet the criteria for a certain position, they will contact you directly. Because your LinkedIn profile shows a track record of contacts that you have added, you should beware adding too many headhunters in order to avoid looking too desperate.
If you want to use Facebook to its full potential, you should make a decision how are you going to use it. Many professionals choose to use Facebook for personal reasons only. Facebook is a different communications tool than LinkedIn or Google+ and therefore gives you more room to connect with your friends in a more relaxed style. The content of your posts can complement your professional life. If you are using Twitter, you may decide to display some of your tweets on Facebook.
However, using Facebook should also be done with extra care. Any controversial photos or posts should be carefully managed so they are visible only to selected friends. You should be mindful of what you post at all times to make sure you don’t offend other people. Just like you would in your everyday life: keep the conversation honest and interesting and share as well as take from your community. If you are applying for a new job, remember that recruiters and potential employers may use your Facebook profile as part of your background check!
Whether we realize it or not, we are networking every time we use any of these social platforms. Remember that almost everything you put out there can stay on the Internet forever, so better think twice and good luck with all your career and networking efforts!
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