Networking online can be a tremendous aid in expanding your field of important job contacts. But if you're looking for a new job, beware of the pitfalls on social Web sites.
Sherrie Madia, co-author of "The Online Job Search Survival Guide" (Hardcover $24.95) says, "Skillful networking can help you meet the right people, make a splash in professional circles, get your name out there, and position yourself as an expert in your field. But too many job seekers forget that every single tweet, blog posting, and Facebook entry has a life of its own -- and that life is immortal."
So if you're not using social media consciously, carefully, and thoughtfully as a way to enhance your online presence and reputation, there's a good chance that it's hurting, not helping, your job search efforts.
Following are a few tips from her book:
Give before taking.
When networking for a job search, always start by giving something of value. Offer an insightful comment to a blog or a question on LinkedIn. Pose a question to an industry group and engage in an information-sharing dialogue on best practices. The trick is to give your expertise and thus position yourself as the helpful expert. People will be inclined to return the favor.
Be sensitive as to which social networks you request colleagues to join you in. If your Facebook page is largely family-oriented and reads like a snapshot from Ancestry.com, think twice about inviting the boss or the senior leadership team to post on your wall. Is this really the mix that either of you wants? If so, more power to your Uncle Ned's backyard barbecue. If not, stick to sites geared more toward professionals, such as LinkedIn or Plaxo.
Avoid gate crashing.
If you have a name and reputation in your field that gives you special currency, don't assume this gives you carte blanche to enter any social network. For example, let's say you search a site such as Ning for social communities geared toward your corporate interests. Before bellyflopping into the pool, have a seat on the deck and listen. Get to know the audience you'd like to engage with first. If there is an administrator of the special-interest community, you might start with a quick introduction, the reason for your call, and a query as to whether members would be okay with your involvement. Or if you feel inclined to get in the water, do so authentically. Members might be pleased to have an expert in their midst, but only if you're honest and sincere.
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