Can networking help you find job leads, potential customers, and business contacts? The answer is an unequivocal yes. Because networking is so important in establishing relationships, regardless of the industry, it becomes even more paramount for the job seeker to use internet networking to the fullest. The best professional internet network out there is called, LinkedIn. If you are looking for a job and you’re not already on this network, I would encourage you to join it http://www.linkedin.com/. It’s free, easy to use, and provides excellent access to people who can help you. But, there is a catch. If you join LinkedIn thinking you’ll treat it like Facebook, be prepared to be disappointed. They’re not the same. LinkedIn is less social and more about business. You have to actually work to gain access to the people who you don’t already know. Here are a few tips to help you use LinkedIn to garner more job opportunities.
• Resist the desire to collect names. Anyone can build a storehouse of people they’re connected to, but if you don’t interact with these connections then you’re wasting your time. Less is best if you want to sniff out every lead you possibly can.
• If you graduated from college, see if your university has formed a LinkedIn group and join the group. Here is where people will list the positions they are looking to fill, and also, candidates will post their availability for hire.
• Join as many groups suited to your field of experience and interest as you can. Once you join these groups, make sure that you interact with other members and let the world know that you’re available for employment opportunities.
• Create a target list of people you’d like to get to know based on the companies you’re interested in working for. The more you interact with people from those companies, the more you can learn about the organization’s hiring practices.
• When you send an invitation to connect with someone, make sure to add a personal note so that they know a little about you and why you’re contacting them.
Beware of what you post on all social networks. Once it’s out there, it will remain there permanently for good and bad. If you trash your employer on Facebook for example, it is possible that your comments could be read by the wrong person. Employers are using Google as part of their background searches, so make sure that what you say and do in cyberspace always represents you well.
Once you’re on LinkedIn, put your public profile link on your resume. Doing this provides more opportunities for potential employers to check you out, and it shows that you know how to market yourself which is extremely helpful when you’re trying to standout.
If you have had success using social networking for business leads, please tell us how you did it. Good news fuels creativity and the courage to think multi-directionally or sideways as I like to say.