The Art of Professional Networking

Social media has driven networking to a whole new level over the past 5-10 years. Facebook, Twitter and now Google+ are turning networking on its head. Sometimes it seems like a full-time job keeping up with it all. Add to the mix professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and it all seems overwhelming.

Let’s face it – social media can be fun. I personally know people who spend hours a day on Facebook, sharing news, stories and personal updates. The first question that may come to mind is how you can use these virtual communities to your advantage in a professional capacity. The second question, of course, is which ones to use and how to manage them once you do.

The place to start is to recognise the power of connectivity involved in social media networks. Facebook alone has over 800,000,000 users. That’s right – eight hundred million. Across the world. Let’s say you limit your Facebook list to just 150 close friends. And those friends have just 150 close friends, too. Right there means that there are 22,500 people available in your immediate and directly connected network available to help you out in your job hunting. A single post stating that you are looking for a job can reach that many people in just a few seconds. What do you think the odds are that your request for open job information from a first or second connection will reach someone in your field?

A second network that will benefit your employment situation is LinkedIn. LinkedIn has the advantage of being a professional network as opposed to a social one. It connects people in the same or similar industries. There are job boards and adverts, company information pages and status feeds that can form an important part of your job search campaign. Targeting professional contacts in your industry and region means that you are working smart and not wasting your efforts and time.

Finally, regardless of the networks you choose, it’s important to work with a social media management programme to consolidate your efforts. Social media managers such as Hootesuite and Social Oomph allow you to post updates and requests to all of your networks at once, instead of logging in to each one individually. Again, this is a good way to work smart and reach a significant number of people with less time and effort on your part.