Why is Social Networking So Important?
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know! Never before has this old saying been more applicable in the job marketplace than in the last five years. According to Mashable.com, a leading source for information for and about the Connected Generation (20-25-year-olds), surveys of employers and employment practices tell the whole story.
- 89% of companies will use social media in their recruiting efforts.
- 79% of hiring managers and recruiters view (and actively search for) information about job candidates on social media websites.
- 86% of employers state that job candidates should make their online profiles more employer-friendly.
- 14.4 million people used social media to secure their last jobs.
With figures like these, it is clear that using social media and networking is as critical to securing employment as the college degree you earned.
Using Social Networking Wisely
Social networking is just one component of a successful job search. It is also just one avenue to help advance your career. Knowing how to use social networking to your advantage includes balancing your online presence with your personal networking efforts, taking advantage of opportunities to increase your industry knowledge, and making yourself a valuable peer in the networking community.
Become familiar with all the major social networking websites. Be aware that personal social websites may be appropriate for some level of professional networking but professional networking websites are often unsuitable for personal socializing.
Thoroughly complete your professional profile on each of the websites you have determined are the best fit for your experience, education and goals. Do not embellish your skills and experience; prepare to defend the standards you have represented in your profile. Match your resume to your profile and make sure both are always up-to-date.
Remember to maintain a distinction between your personal and professional networking. Be vigilant with your personal information beyond that which is necessary to establish your identity and credentials on the professional websites.
Identify websites specific to your industry or profession, paying particular attention to websites that have discussion forums or some other method of communicating among members. Make note of the organizations behind these websites and those that maintain a local presence where you may interact personally with other professionals in your area.
Establish a routine for maintaining contact on the websites and with other professionals you have met. Being a regular contributor implies an expertise that may not be obvious on your resume alone.
Things to do Every Day
Log in to the websites you have determined provide the most advantageous environment for your goal, whether it is a job search or making contacts that might advance your career in the future.
Read posts and comments on forums but do not feel compelled to respond to every conversation. Especially when you first join a new networking website, you want to observe more and write less.
Things to do Every Week
When you make your first foray into the world of professional networking, try to post one interesting question or concern you have in regard to the industry. Be sincere. More experienced members will root out a contrived post quickly. Respond quickly and graciously to any input you receive. This opens the door for future conversations and opportunities.
Review your plan for the previous week.
- · Did you log in to all the websites you have decided to join?
- · Did you respond to any posts within the confines of your experience and knowledge?
- · Have you met at least one or two new people in your industry or profession?
Upon reflection of the previous week, plan your next week ahead.
Things to do Every Month
Determine which organizations you found online hold personal meetings, seminars or other opportunities to meet in person. Strive to attend at least one such networking opportunity every month.
Maintain a professional journal, recording specific people you have met because of your networking activities. Also, record any new skills you have developed, special recognition you have received professionally, and important projects you have worked on in the last month. When it is time to update your resume you will have all the information readily at hand.
Things to do Every Quarter
Re-evaluate your original networking plan, making changes as necessary. The most exciting aspect of professional networking is that you never really know where a question, conversation, or contact will lead, oftentimes in directions you never considered. Be open to new opportunities. Examine your education and skills to discover new avenues you never considered before.
Especially after the first three months of consistent and focused networking, you likely have developed a stronger sense of where you are going; how you are going to get there is still to be decided. Keep working your networking plan.
Things to do Every Six Months
Evaluate the networking websites where you have established your presence in the last six months.
- · Which one(s) are the best populated?
- · Which one(s) have given you the most opportunity to contribute?
- · Which one(s) have given you knowledge or direction you did not previously possess?
Ask these questions to decide where you will continue to make a networking effort. Revise your strategy every six months as your needs change and as you discover new opportunities.
Review and revise your profile information and resume if you have not done so in the last six months. Make note of any new skills, professional recognition, or milestones reached.
Things to do Every Year
If you have actively worked your networking plan, your professional life is sure to look much different now. As well, what you know about your profession and industry has never been greater. Use that new knowledge to your advantage. Re-evaluate your professional goals. Examine your educational credentials and make plans to rectify shortcomings. Survey your skills, as objectively as possible, and then take steps to increase your skill sets to be more competitive in the market.
Networking requires a plan that is workable, whether it is to obtain a job or advance your career. You can expect to get results from your networking efforts when you put effort into networking.
Do not expect other professionals to cater to your naivete while you learn the systems. Take the initiative to be familiar with the ways and means of each networking website.
Come Recommended, a digital public relations company catering to job seekers and employers, advises you should never network just because you need something. Not everyone has an agenda, nor will everyone be sympathetic to yours. Be willing and interested to offer your assistance or perspective to the other members without seeing it as an opportunity to advance yourself.
Furthermore, never blatantly sell yourself to others on networking websites. You may be branded an intruder instead of a peer if you post your resume or a job solicitation on networking forums.
Finally, remember to say “Thank you” frequently. It is sometimes easy to take advantage of the wealth of information and assistance available when you are a part of a networking forum. Remembering common courtesies makes you stand out in the crowd.