Networking “HOWs” – Virtual Networking

If you haven’t read my previous blogs about networking, look at the “Categories” section to your right and click on “Networking.”

Practical Tips to Help Optimize Your Online Network 

The possibilities to connect are endless:  Blogs, networking sites such as linkedin.com and large and small social networks provide opportunities to “meet” professionals from every industry.  How should you take advantage of the possibilities?

Blogs
Identify the key bloggers in your industry.  Who has their finger on the pulse of your working world?  Read their blogs and, whenever possible, make intelligent comments and suggestions.  Simply agreeing or saying “nice post” doesn’t count!  Take some time to try to add to the conversation.  When you become a regular contributor, you will begin to form a community of people who recognize you and value your opinions.

Consider authoring your own blog!  The Wall Street Journal article, How Blogs are Changing the Recruiting Landscape, reports that one recruitment manager spends one to two hours a week searching blogs for potential hires.  In three years, blogs helped him fill 125 corporate jobs. Only take this on if you are willing to work at putting together something professional.  If your blog is sloppily done, it could hurt you.  Blogging about your industry can be a great way to gain a positive reputation.

Organize a Social Network 
If you have the time, consider organizing a social networking site online.  It could be an offshoot of another site or in response to your in-person networking.  If you see a need or a niche, taking the time and effort to fill it may get you noticed!

Linkedin
This site is a goldmine of information, networking resources and potential job opportunities.

Industry Specific Groups
Consider joining several industry specific networking groups.   This association  directory can help get you thinking about organizations in your arena.

Etiquette 
As you join social networks, chat rooms and groups, be sure to observe (lurk) before you chime in with your 2 cents worth.  You will come across more professionally if you understand the etiquette of a site before you inject your opinions.

Don’t forget that networking isn’t only about what you can get from others.  What goes around comes around – be sure that you make the effort to extend yourself in your networks.  Help someone else!  Provide a suggestion, a resource or an answer to a question.  If nothing else, it is good karma! 

Your Reputation
As you put your name out there, be sure to keep track of how you are being indexed in search engines.  Google your name.  If anything negative comes up,  Lindsey Pollak’s  blog suggests checking out  reputationdefender.com.  This company promises to get rid of unflattering online content.  Since many employers are supplementing reference checks with online searches, this may be a valuable tool. 

Another great idea from Lindsey’s blog is to sign up for Google Alerts on your name. Google will e-mail you every time you are  indexed, and you can keep track of your virtual reputation.

Consider the following tips that apply both to on- and off-line networking

  • Don’t wait until you are looking for a job to begin networking.
  • All leads are worth pursuing.
  • Set networking goals.  Prioritize and focus. 
  • Stay organized. Keep track of contacts, what you have learned and who referred you where.  (This can be especially important in the online world, where networks will intertwine.) 
  • Research and be prepared.
  • Always send a thank you note to everyone who helps you.  Cyberspace contacts appreciate knowing they had a positive impact, even if their comments or suggestions were not targeted to you.  If someone’s blog or suggestion helps you, let them know!
  • Write professionally.  Spell check and use proper grammar.
  • Be genuine, enthusiastic and confident in all networking communications.
  • Keep adding to your contact list and continue networking, even when you have a job.

Stay tuned for how to optimize your in-person career networking! 

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