Having a strategy for your online networks can lead to job and career opportunities. Some useful tips to help you get started
Having a networking strategy for your FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, blog and/or YouTube channel will create professional networking opportunities. These tools are free to use, and allow you to broaden the scope of your networking activities.
Useful tips to help you get started
Using FaceBook to find job opportunities or business contacts
In the first instance it's important to note that FaceBook's purpose is socializing. Hard selling and blatant professional networking is likely to be viewed as spamming, and in extreme cases could get your profile suspended. That having been said many individuals and organizations network effectively on FaceBook. The key is taking the time to develop a network of users who share your professional interests and nurture effective online relationships with them.
Your FB friends
Create a networking friend list and use it separately to your real friends list. In your networking list add any people who are already part of your professional network (previous business contacts, co-workers, employers etc). Now you need to find other FaceBook users connected to the profession / field / business interests you are hoping to network in.
Search for FaceBook Groups and Pages that are directly related to your profession / field / interest first, and indirectly related second. The objective is to find Groups and Pages that will have members or friends who are likely to be involved in the areas you would like to be as well.
For example; your profession may be accounting, and your field tax accounting. A search for tax accounting jobs on FaceBook is unlikely to yield useful results. A search for CPA Australia may yield groups or pages where you can start to build a network.
Be prepared to take some time to build an active network. If you're starting from scratch it will take several months to develop the appropriate list of contacts and become familiar with them. Once you've found Groups and Pages that seem relevant post a brief note about why you have joined. Keep to the point and focus on your shared interest with the subject matter of the Group or Page.
Make regular contributions to Groups or common interest Pages. Comment on other user's links or contributions, and post relevant and interesting links or contributions of your own. Steer clear of any hard selling, and instead discuss your common professional interests. You've all joined or liked these pages – so at the very least you have one thing in common to start a conversation.
If you select the groups and pages carefully you should find these are of a professional nature that aligns with your networking goals.
Whereas FaceBook is about sharing and connecting, Twitter is about sharing and discovering. As a result self promotion and more blatant networking tend to be more common and acceptable on Twitter than FaceBook.
Who to follow and lists
On Twitter you follow any other user whose tweets you would like to receive in your feed, you can also create lists to manage who you follow. Create a Professional Contacts list to follow users whose information you want to receive.
To find users to follow you browse interests. Although the categories frequently change there you should be able to find users to follow who are related to your field of interest and follow their tweets. Add the most relevant contacts to your Professional Contacts list.
Devote time & be active
Over time you will attract followers who will be interested in receiving your tweets. Keep your tweets professional, relevant and directly to the point. Make your objectives clear so that those following will know how best to respond and will be able to judge if making a personal contact in response to one of your tweets is appropriate.
Twitter can be linked directly to your FaceBook and/or other social networking accounts (such as LinkedIn). This can be a good way to keep your Twitter active.
LinkedIn – the professionals' network!
LinkedIn is a network for professionals to connect with other professionals. Finding and adding other users is very similar to the process required on FaceBook. The main difference is that LinkedIn exists to facilitate professional networking. Although LinkedIn is nowhere near as popular as FaceBook and Twitter it is an essential part of your online networking mix, and continues to grow in popularity.
YouTube is the largest search engine in the world except for Google.
YouTube should be considered as a tool in your online networking kit. Video resumes are becoming more popular, and depending on the profession / field you are working a video can often present your portfolio more impressively than a traditional written resume.
Your Blog (or website) should be considered the glue that ties your online professional networking presence together.
Here you can store your resume, link to your YouTube account, FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. And of course here is where you can direct people for more information from your other sources.
Separate your professional networking blog from any other blog you may operate. Reserve it for the sole purpose of networking. Keep it up-to-date with your latest experience, informative and relevant.
If you use free online tools such as WordPress or Blogger you will be able to integrate posts and information from you other accounts automatically (such as LinkedIn, Twitter or FaceBook) and these opportunities are worth devoting the time to explore and understand.
To network effectively you need a balance of activities, and you will need to assess your capacity to manage all effectively. It is better to run fewer activities more effectively than spread yourself too thin.