We all know networking leads to interviewing for jobs. Who you know and who they know can connect you to all types of hiring managers, recruiters, and human resources professionals. There are old-fashioned ways of networking that still work today, but the standard in on-line networking has been fairly entrenched around LinkedIn (your online resume), Facebook (see BranchOut application), personal blogs (which usually include a resume if you're looking), Twitter (search on #jobs), and even location-based social networking, like FourSquare.
With this standard in place, you can bet that recruiters are pouring over Social Media portals to "meet" new candidates. It surprises me when I find profiles on these sites that tell me little about the person's professional career.
Getting Connected to Hiring Managers/Recruiters
It appears many of the users of LinkedIn would like to keep their network to people they know personally. But if you are a job seeker, you should be reaching out to recruiters through this tool and sharing your profile. Just this week, I had someone send me an invite (we were networked together through a Group, but I didn't know her at all). She wrote a short note with her invite explaining why she was reaching out to join my network. Once I accepted her invite to be connected, she followed up with her resume and career highlights. This information went directly into my database and I will call her if I have a match for a future job.
Details Are Important
The key to realize is the more information you put in your profiles, they more easily you are found. Plain and simple. It seems some job seekers feel just putting their job title is sufficient to be found and contacted. But if I'm looking for something specific, like a Controller with experience with e-Commerce and GreatPlains software, I'll contact those I find with that experience before I try folks with just Controller listed. Here are some basics to keep in mind:
- Use specific key words in the description of your role at each company.
- By including key accomplishments, you can convey more details about your experience
- Show growth in your positions if you intend on getting a promotion.
- If you are an active job seeker, include your cell phone number or email address in your contact information. Those who are NOT connected with you can still find your profile, but not necessarily your contact info.
- Be sure to include your Educational background. To some hiring managers, these can be a deal-maker/deal-breaker.
- Connect with everyone. Your core group is still within your expanded community and you can find them easily within these tools. Don't worry about "clouding up your connection list" with peripheral contacts. One of these contacts might be your connection to the next opportunity.
Why People Don't Network Online
Some people fear the boss is studying all their employees' LinkedIn profiles and suspicious of anyone who has one (as if they're looking to leave the company). Again, with these tools being the standard, it is expected you have a profile in at least LinkedIn. Just because you have a profile doesn't mean you are actively looking for a new job. Even if you include "Career Opportunities" in the "Interested In" section of LinkedIn (under Contact Settings), that doesn't mean you are actively looking. It simply means, you are willing to hear about opportunities as they arise. Even your boss is likely to do the same.
Not-so-funny story: I invited a potential candidate (John Doe) to join my LinkedIn network-he was a potential fit for a job I was looking to fill. He accepted my invite and we were connected. I immediately sent him a job description of the job. No response. Soon after, one of my contacts emailed the same information to her general network per my request. One of her contacts emailed it to John Doe a MONTH LATER. When John got this e-mail, he immediately sent me his resume. A day after the job was filled. Lesson to be learned: make sure you check your LinkedIn e-mail often or at least have it forwarded to your regular e-mail account. You might just be missing out on a timely opportunity, like John Doe.
Do It Now
Even if you are not an active job seeker, the best time to build your online network is before you need it. By building a strong network, you can be ready for any situation that calls for a broadcast message to many. It might even have nothing to do with a job search. You might want help finding a vendor or new client. You might want to publicize a seminar you will be presenting. Or you might just be looking for that secret ingredient in a recipe you lost. Whatever it is, it pays to be linked to a large virtual network.
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