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It's all about people. It's about networking and being nice to people and not burning any bridges. Your book is going to impress, but in the end, it is people that are going to hire you. -Mike Davidson
Networking has taken on a whole new meaning in the Internet age, it no longer requires you to attend uncomfortable events in a suit and tie. Just when you have mastered the art of handing out your business card and pitching yourself in front of intimidating people, professional networking sites offer you another way to make connections happen. “That would be so much easier!” You would think to yourself, “I can just add people like adding friends on Facebook.” Not so fast, networking online also means plenty of chances for faux pas and breaches of etiquette. To help you better utilize the resources of online networking and boost your chance of finding a career on the internet, here are 4 useful tips.
1. Hone your profile.
Creating and controlling your personal brand for potential employers is vital these days. Social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook have made it much easier for recruiters to do a quick search on job candidates. Based on the information you have presented on the internet, they will either invite you for an interview or disqualify you.
Just like in the real world, people will judge your professionalism based on a first impression. A profile picture is essential. People with a good profile picture are most likely to get clicked on than those without. It should be a clear, focused head and shoulders shot. Do not use a picture from a holiday that has been cropped or a picture with your ex-employer's logo on it. If you have the luxury, go get a professional photo taken by a photographer, it will boost your credibility and make you look a lot more reliable on the network. Here is another helpful article that can be beneficial to read if you want to get the profile picture right.
2. Monitor what people are finding out about you online.
Always Google yourself. If you have never done this, I strongly recommend you to do it now before you continue reading the rest of the article. Keep in mind how many results come up for you when you search your name and what the say about you. Are the results about you correct and precise with what you want people to know about you? Is there anything unappealing about you that is likely to compromise your credibility and jeopardize the impression you will make on decision-makers? If you do find anything unpleasant about you on the internet, it is time to start working to bring helpful, favorable results to the forefront, pushing negative results down to the bottom where they will be less visible.
You can change your search results in many ways. To claim your name by purchasing the domain name “yourname.com” is always a good idea. When you claim your personal URL, you can launch a website or blog to demonstrate your professionalism and sell yourself. Setting up a Google Alerts account for your name is also very helpful. This free service keeps you updated on what people are saying about you online. Once you set up an account, Google Alerts will notify you with an email whenever a search term you’ve provided is published on the Internet.
3. Look for ways to expand your networks.
Social media sites, especially the big ones like Facebook and LinkedIn have hundreds of millions of active users for you to reach out to. LinkedIn, in particular, allows you to establish a professional network consisting of your connections and your connections’ connections, easily linking you to thousands of people in your industry and in other fields. Make sure to create new relationships by sending a cold email to people you hope to get to know, and get introduced to advantageous contacts through people you already know.
When reaching out to someone for the first time, it is always safe to use the “business email format” to present yourself as a professional. Business email function as both an internal and an external method of communication; its three main formatting elements are the heading, the body, and a signature block. When writing a business email, sloppiness and poor grammar are not tolerated. To learn more about the templates, rules and everything you need to know about the art of business writing!
Once you’ve gotten to know the person a bit, it’s time to get more personal. Send a warm-up message to re-introduce yourself and cite recent activities of theirs that you may have learned on the network. When approaching a potential contact, be friendly, respectful and brief, and be very clear about your request. Always keep in mind that the person is doing you a favor.
4. Follow up regularly.
It is your responsibility to send a follow-up email after making a new contact, it is an efficient way to remind the person who you are and keep your contact informed of your career moves. Once you get to know the person better, you can even invite your contact to get coffee if you happen to be in the same city, and during the holiday season, send him/her a card with a nice note. Want to know how to keep in touch with people professionally? Read this article.
When sending a follow-up email, it never hurts to be overly polite and humble. Patience is also required especially when you don’t hear back from someone right away. Showing that you’re friendly and that you understand how busy your contact is a good way to keep your contact interested. It is usually recommended to send a follow-up email within 24 hours after making the new contact to show appreciation. In some cases, if you have followed up a few times and still haven’t heard back, then move on. There will be plenty of valuable contacts who will be open to your overtures.
I hope these ideas make networking online a little easier for you. If you are interested in learning more about networking and particularly communication in the workplace, here is another great article on the ProSky blog.