The Way to Work

online networking, twitter

The Way to Keep Working: Online Social Networking

May 10, 2009
by Rachel Balik
Ever heard the expression, “Nice to Tweet you”? If not, get ready to say hello to the wonderful world of online networking. All you need is a few profiles, interesting things to say and the tools to reach out. It’s easy. We promise. And we can tell you exactly how to do it.

The Next Big Thing

In January 2009, the Web site Mashable reported a survey that found that the number one area where small businesses intended to invest their online marketing budgets was social networking. Using an online social network to discover and keep in touch with clients is now an important way to do business. That’s as true for you as an individual as it is for a company. A well-established online social network has become an essential tool for those seeking employment and/or industry contacts.

Social Networking Grows Up

Social networking can be really fun, but it is by no means a game. Most people have moved beyond simply using the Internet for recreation; today, they’re going online to build their personal brand identity or find a job. The Fort Worth Business Press explains that in this economy, passively scanning ads on job search sites like just won’t cut it anymore. Rather, you need to develop a personal job profile and use it to sell yourself to prospective employers.
When Facebook started, it was the ultimate procrastination tool for college kids. Twitter struck many as a way to complain to a bunch of people you don’t know that your latte arrived with too much froth. Now, these kinds of sites have taken on more professional purposes. Most people are using Facebook and its more obviously business-oriented competitor LinkedIn as job-getting tools. Twitter is useful for brand promotion, networking and creating an online identity. As Tom Howard, who got his job through Facebook, told the Fort Worth Business Press, Twitter is “not a generational thing; it’s a success thing.”

The article suggests several job networking sites; you at least need to be on Facebook and LinkedIn to start making connections online, and strongly consider using Twitter.

Tweet About It

To some, Twitter is a strange concept. Why would anybody want to know that you’re walking your dog or drinking Snapple lemonade for third time today? Well, if you have a good mix of friendly “tweets” woven together with some informative ones, such as: “reading a online networking feature by @wickedRB via @findingDulcinea?” you can develop an identity as someone who provides useful information to your online friends. You’ll also find people who share your interests, career-related and otherwise. When you set up your Twitter account, you can describe yourself, link to your Web site and use the site to search for friends who are of like mind.

There are other tools that you can use to meet more people on Twitter. Mr. Tweet is a Web site that calls itself your personal networking assistant. Mr. Tweet will recommend you to other users who share your interests and offer suggestions about helpful people for you to follow. You can also get statistics about your Twitter account.

Establish Your Reliability

As you start interacting online, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or as part of a blog network, remember to be patient and cautious; that’s key as you begin to build credibility.  The Problogger Web site offers a few short bulleted tips on how you can do this. In addition to the tips from the author, you’ll find over 20 additional comments from knowledgeable users. (Hint: One of the bullet points suggests breaking into new spheres and niches by commenting.)

It’s also important to take a stance. If you’re tweeting a link, article or piece of information, have something to say about it.

You’ve Tweeted Somebody. Now Meet Somebody!

While it’s true that a large part of networking is done online these days, that doesn’t mean that you’ll never see another person again. Nor does it mean that you should let yourself slack off and stop going to events where you can actually shake someone’s hand. Getting to know people in a casual, friendly setting is fun (just like Facebook stalking!) and also puts your face in the mind of people who work in your field. Next time a job opportunity arises, the memory of living, breathing you might inspire a phone call or recommendation.

The Web site is a great way to find the networking events that best suit your needs. It helps you find groups of people all over the country that share your interests. Don’t just limit your attendance to work-related events; your knitting friends might be the ones to clue you in on a great new job opportunity. The more people you know, the better off you are.

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