Managing Your Career Through Effective Social NetworkingBy Kathy Bornheimer
Social networking is now all of the rage. People of a certain generation were raised on MySpace and Face book (Gen Y or Millenials). Now many people of previous generations (Gen X and Boomers) are discovering this process through LinkedIn.
It is my recommendation that Gen Y graduate to LinkedIn by the time they're a sophomore in college or upon completion of an Associate degree. This form of social networking is one of the best resources anyone can benefit from in job search, career management or career progression. It definitely adds a strong component to employment stability.
One need not be a technical/computer wizard to achieve results (this author is a perfect example of that). "Rome was not built in a day" and neither will your LinkedIn network. Getting started and then learning how to use it is the main concept.
Here are some basic guidelines:
- If you haven't already received a LinkedIn invitation from a friend or colleague just go to the site www.LinkedIn.com and follow their easy instructions.
- Review several profiles of others to get some ideas of what to include in yours.
- Develop a basic profile that will give people enough information about you to be useful. A word of caution; this is the Internet, what you include is accessible to anyone and will last for years!
- Include your picture, but make sure that you have a decent "professional" headshot. Again, this is for your career and employment; not for fun.
- Add to your profile as you increase your ability to use this system better.
- Research special groups, Alumni associations or discussion groups that apply to you and increase your access to people and events.
- Remember, this is a two way street and all parties should be benefiting.
- Add to your network as time and circumstances allow. This is not a contest in who can collect the most in the shortest time. Apply the principle of quality over quantity; not just volume. I have divided my connections into 3 categories (my A, B and C lists). The direct interactions that my contacts engage in determine their ranking.
- When you add or make changes to your information it will be sent to your contacts and you will remain fresher in their system. Repeat exposure is an effective marketing tool. You want to be considered or contacted when something happens to benefit you or will add to your resources. You can also contact someone in your network directly regarding resources, updates or events that will benefit both of you.
There is a dark side to this great resource that must be accounted for. This is a tool that most people use effectively and ethically, however:
- This is the Internet and you do not have full control as to who will see it and how they will use it.
- LinkedIn does have rules and regulations for contacting, but, many people know how to "get round it". Candidate mining and harvesting candidate information has been going on for years now. The ethical issue comes about in "who's benefiting". It can not be one sided and one party contributing to the success on another without benefit may occur.
- The secondary fallout to this ethical issue is that it not only may affect you, but people within your network.
- Many managers are getting used to their workforce engaging in social networking and in fact the smart ones are using it as well. However, some may have a low tolerance or not possess a full appreciation of this system to ignore your accessibility to others. How you layout your profile and indicate your interests must be worded carefully. If the seeds of doubt are planted with your employer you may become counter productive in your efforts to succeed.
The benefits of social networking far outweigh any negative side effects. Know what you're getting into; learn from others and over time build a great network where all succeed. Improve and add to your information as you become increasingly savvy with this tool and connect with new people. You never know who you'll connect with over the years.
View your LinkedIn information daily and add to it 1-2 times a week. Keep things fresh and updated so others gain information about you and with you. This follows another great concept in marketing; product placement. This is being in the right place, at the right time, in front of the right person to achieve your goals.