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Posts Tagged ‘online networks’

How to Build a Network

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

By Andrea Santiago

Job search experts, career counselors and coaches are constantly touting the benefits of professional networking. For many job seekers and professionals, establishing and building a network is not that simple. Many wonder where to begin, and with whom to connect. How exactly do you build a resourceful, dynamic network that can actually help you with job search or career advancement?

Network early, and often. (And don’t stop networking!) It’s never too early to start networking. Building a network is a marathon, not a sprint. If possible, start building your network before you’re in dire need of a job. Devote a few minutes a day several times per week to networking. Even when you are gainfully, happily employed, you should always continue networking to help you learn more about your industry, advance your career, or develop relationships with potential clients.

Give before you receive. The most effective networkers are able to provide value to their connections, whether it’s industry knowledge, professional introductions, or assistance with any defined need. Dan Schawbel, personal branding expert, offers this advice in an online interview: “Figure out a way to help…in some fashion. Give value to others without asking for anything in return.”

Use online and offline networking resources. Social networking sites are a very effective tool for building your professional network. However, be careful not to get lost in cyberspace! Get out for quality face time at networking events, conferences, interviews, etc., as well as general face-to-face social interaction of any type!

Online Networking

Account set-up is only the beginning. If you were attending a professional conference or trade show, would you set up your booth and then walk away, leaving it alone, and expect prospects to flock to your empty, unmanned station? The same applies to online social networking. For success in building your network, you must remain active, post updates (preferably ones with some value to your network), and continually invite others to connect with you. Joining the network is just the first step. A blank, dormant account will not attract worthwhile connections.

Focus on Proven Networks. There are hundreds of networking sites, and deciding where to begin can be overwhelming. Start with one network, and then add one or two more if needed. LinkedIn is a great starting point, and a convenient home base for maintaining your network. Eventually you may want to also join a network specific to your industry or professional role, if there is a strong, active site pertaining to your career.

Respond and interact with others. Networking should include mutual interaction. While it’s important to post updates and links from your account, it’s equally important to comment, “like”, and share updates and posts from others’ accounts, particularly those of key influencers. By doing so, you will increase your visibility to important connections as they review responses to their posts, and your connections will be more likely to notice you and remember you when an applicable need arises.

Face-to-Face Networking

Informal, unofficial events can be the best networking opportunities. Some of the best places and times to network are often outside of official networking meetings or industry conferences. These can include social gatherings, or everyday activities in public places such as sitting on an airplane, standing in line, or riding in an elevator. Every interaction is a potential networking opportunity.

Ask questions. People are more likely to open up and let down their guard when asked questions about themselves. Taking an interest in others’ lives and their expertise can help engage a new contact.

Follow-up online. Be sure to reach out online after meeting someone. Invite them to connect to your network so you can keep track of them and continue to reach out to them conveniently.

How does networking work to your advantage? Alison Doyle, author and job search expert, provides some real-world examples of networking successes, plus additional networking tips.

Take just a few minutes to plant a few networking seeds several times a week, and you will ultimately build a resourceful, thriving network of engaged professionals.

How to use LinkedIn for Career Development

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

By Miriam Salpeter

Job seekers and professionals who care about their career trajectories should create and maintain a presence on LinkedIn. Why? It’s a valuable, professional network for job seekers. In fact, a recent Jobvite survey shows LinkedIn is involved in 73% of all hires influenced by social media. However, LinkedIn isn’t only a place for job seekers to maintain a presence. The network also provides tools to help anyone who wants to meet new people and expand her professional network, demonstrate expertise, and be found—all useful aspects of social media for all careerists.

Best Practices for Job Seekers

Your profile. It is much more likely for someone to find you via LinkedIn when you completely fill out your profile. Include a detailed summary. You have two choices when creating a summary: write it in the first person (using “I, me, and my”) or describe yourself as if a third party wrote it (using your name and “he” or “she” to describe yourself.) While I have a preference for the first person, the most important thing in your summary is to tell a story; don’t just list your qualifications; use LinkedIn to display a little personality and to inspire the reader to want to learn more about you. While you are at it, include a professional photo showing your face only.

Fill in all of your job titles and descriptions. Include words other people will use when they want to find someone like you. Use descriptive titles for your job descriptions. For example, if your title was “vice president,” add in a more descriptive detail in the title headline, such as, “Vice President, Sales and Marketing/Pharmaceuticals.”

If you are a student, incorporate LinkedIn’s sections targeted specifically for you: Projects, Honors & Awards, Organizations, Test Scores, and Courses. Go to your LinkedIn profile page in edit mode, and click the blue “Add sections” bar under your profile summary to add these sections. Explore “Applications” when you are editing your profile. You may wish to add Slideshare, your blog feed, your reading list, or Events to your profile.

Your URL. This is important for everyone, but for job seekers who may wish to share their LinkedIn URLs via resumes or business cards, it is even more pressing. If you do not customize your URL, it has a bunch of random numbers after your name. It’s very easy to update this URL to a “vanity” link. Simply click on “Edit” at the end of the line showing your Public Profile.

Ask for recommendations. You need at least three recommendations for a complete LinkedIn profile. It is not necessary to have 35 references; some people think it is suspicious to have so many. Consider having a few references for each of your jobs, and maybe an extra one or two for your more recent positions. Be sure to give your endorsers some guidance and suggestions of topics to cover when you request recommendations.

Follow companies. When you follow companies (from the Companies tab), LinkedIn can be a great resource for learning when the company is hiring, and when people change jobs. LinkedIn actually suggests company profiles that may interest you; in essence, it does some of your research for you! When you follow a company, you alert the organization of your interest, which could be very useful when there is an opening at the organization.

Best Practices for Everyone

Keep in touch. Use LinkedIn to connect with people you meet casually or in formal networking events. It’s a good way to keep track of people, especially when colleagues move positions and companies so often. If you connect via LinkedIn, you won’t lose track of people you meet.

Join groups and expand your network. LinkedIn has groups for just about every profession, and even many hobbies. Search Groups to identify some active local and topical groups. Join and elect to receive updates. Contribute to conversations and respond to other people’s comments. When you encounter people you’d like to know better, ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn, and don’t hesitate to follow up by asking for a phone appointment or an in-person meeting.

Use “Answers” to demonstrate your expertise. LinkedIn’s Answers section is under the “Other” tab on the toolbar. Spend time exploring the questions and answer whenever you have something to say. Often, people use this section to identify and connect with experts to hire.

Take advantage of LinkedIn’s functionality, whether or not you are in an active job search. Using it well makes it more likely for someone to find you if they need to hire someone with your qualifications. Remember, it’s not just a medium for active job seekers; using LinkedIn’s tools help you showcase what you know and grows your network.

Using Personal Networks to Your Advantage

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

By Miriam Salpeter

Even though job seekers are inundated with advice to use their personal networks to propel job search success, it is not always easy to follow through. Social networking complicates the focus on personal networks, as traditional media constantly shares ways people lose jobs via Facebook and networks like it, without showcasing stories from people who found jobs! With thousands of people joining online networks each day, it’s impossible to ignore these tools when leveraging personal networks for job opportunities. The key for job seekers is knowing how to use in-person and online communities without seeming like a desperate job seeker. Read on for suggestions!
Real, In-Person Networks
Just because social media is so pervasive doesn’t mean job seekers should ignore their in-person networks. Advise job seekers to consider any party as a networking opportunity. This includes backyard barbeques, birthday parties, and professional socials. Job seekers never know where they may meet the perfect contact to provide a professional introduction.

However, it’s important not to parade around these events with a virtual “J” for job hunter on the forehead. No one wants to get stuck talking to someone who seems desperate or needy and who only wants to discuss possible job connections. Important points for job hunters to consider when meeting new people in person:

  • Be a listener first. Make every person feel as if he or she is important and valued. Ask a lot of questions. The goal should be to continue the conversation at a later date. People enjoy and appreciate spending time with people who are good listeners and seem interested in them.
  • Learn some personal details about contacts to make it easy to follow-up and keep in touch. (It’s a good idea to advise job seekers to excuse themselves to jot down some notes after conversations.) For example, take note of the contact’s favorite sports team or hobby. In a month or two, send a note commenting on the team’s progress (if it’s positive!) or forward an article or blog post relevant to the person’s hobby. Doing so helps keep the job seeker top-of-mind and reminds the contact to think about possible networking opportunities for the person.
  • It is important for the job seeker to work something into the conversation relevant to his or her search, but he or she should refrain from actually asking for help during an informal gathering or first meeting. For example, “I’m an enterprise technology HR professional focused on finance. I’m actually seeking a new opportunity, possibly in an Oracle environment.” This statement offers information, but does not ask for anything in return. Most people won’t have a great lead or suggestion off the tops of their heads, anyway. It’s better to ask the new contact to meet for coffee at a later time. Resist asking for anything specific until the follow-up meeting.
  • Always ask new acquaintances if they are willing to connect via LinkedIn. (And then follow up right after the event.)
  • It’s easy to recognize if a contact is amenable to getting together. Follow up immediately with an invitation for coffee or lunch. During the informational meeting, job seekers should be sure to continue to demonstrate expertise, but also make it clear what organizations or individuals they would like to meet and request introductions if possible.
  • If the contact offers to “keep his ears open” for the job seeker after an in-person meeting, it means he doesn’t have enough information to know how to help. In that case, re-state job search objectives and suggest companies of interest. It’s up to the job seeker to be sure contacts know what they can do to help. Don’t leave the results up to chance.

Connecting with online personal networks
In many ways, the “rules” for social networking are the same as in-person networking: listen more than you contribute, don’t ask for something before you build a relationship, and give before you expect to get. Job seekers shouldn’t ignore opportunities to use Facebook, where most of their contacts actually know them! Some advice to help job seekers motivate Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter contacts to help them:

  • Maintain complete profiles on all of the “big three:” LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Incorporate keywords to help readers know what the job seeker knows and how he or she can contribute.
  • Use Facebook and LinkedIn status updates and tweets to illustrate expertise. Job seekers should post updates making it clear they understand their targeted fields. It’s easy to find links and data to post online by searching Google or by setting a Google alert. Another way to keep up-to-date about company information is to follow companies via LinkedIn to source details to share on social networks. For example, if someone wants a job in insurance, he or she should follow news sources for regulatory updates and other useful information to share on Facebook. This helps everyone following the job seeker understand his or her interests and field and may make contacts more likely to think of the person if they learn of appropriate opportunities.
  • Occasionally mention a company of interest via status updates, but constantly referring to a job hunt is counterproductive.
  • Present a totally professional persona, eliminating anything the job seeker wouldn’t want an employer to see. This helps friends and contacts see the job seeker as a potential employee or referral.