Meet-ups and events are a great way to get your face seen but if you really want to advance your career you need to make the most of social networking sites. Here’s how…
If you think social networking is something you only do with friends, think again. People who regularly use social tools – like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – in business are more likely to get promoted than those who don’t, according to a recent report by Google.
Advancing your career with LinkedIn
Whether you want to find a new job, make connections or expand your business opportunities, LinkedIn offers an unparalleled opportunity to advance your career.
Boasting more than nine million users in the UK (and more than 175 million globally), LinkedIn is the biggest professional networking site in the world. Thousands of companies advertise vacancies via the site and while the ‘recommendations’ feature is admittedly biased, it remains a useful tool for recruiters. If you’re new to the site, the first step is to create a profile.
‘Pages that are 100 per cent complete show up in more searches, so it’s worth entering everything requested,’ says John Lees, career coach and author of How To Get A Job You’ll Love.
‘Expect to write a summary of your skills and experience, give details of your education and employment history, upload a photo and obtain at least three recommendations.’
Profile complete, consider uploading extra files and presentations – for example, you might embed your blog, upload a SlideShare presentation or integrate your Twitter account.
‘LinkedIn pages rank highly in search engines, so your profile may be the first thing that comes up in Google,’ says Lees. ‘Treat it like an online CV and make it as good as you can – who knows when a headhunter might see it.’
To look for jobs you can either ‘follow’ companies you are interested in or search by keyword, like job title, industry or location.
Making valuable new connections
LinkedIn shows who your contacts are connected to and allows you to request an ‘introduction’ to them. You can also search for people by job title or company or make contacts by joining a group.
‘The groups feature is a great way to make introductions and raise your profile in the industry,’ says Lees. ‘Once signed up, you can contact other members directly, take part in debates and see vacancies that might not be advertised elsewhere.’
To contact people outside of your network you can send a friend request and hope for the best or contact them using ‘InMail’ – which will require you to pay for an account upgrade.
Networking opportunities on Facebook
While Facebook presents a minefield of over-sharing dangers (and thanks to timeline that embarrassing photo could bite you on the proverbial bum years later), it also offers networking opportunities.
‘Facebook is constantly expanding and is increasingly being used as a serious business tool,’ says Richard Maun, career coach and author of Bouncing Back: How To Get Going Again After a Career Set-Back.
‘Facebook Business Pages allow you to stream blog content, links and comments to people who ‘like’ them, while targeted advertising opportunities may work well for your business.’
So what about those embarrassing pictures? ‘You can run separate lists for family, friends and work colleagues,’ says Maun. ‘Though I simply make sure anything I post is something that I don’t mind everyone knowing about.’
Building your personal brand with Twitter
Quick and simple to use (with messages limited to 140 characters), Twitter can help you make connections, find vacancies and build a personal brand that will raise your profile.
‘Through Twitter, I’ve made new business friends whom I’ve networked with,’ says Maun. ‘These people have given me ideas for business, introduced me to new clients and been a useful source of advice and encouragement.’
Your bio should describe your career achievements and link to your LinkedIn profile or online CV, such as VisualCV. While a few personal tweets are fine, keep it professional.
‘You want to establish yourself as an industry expert,’ suggests Maun. ‘Tweet about industry topics, share links and answer others’ questions. You don’t have to produce all the content – you just need to be seen as someone “in the know” who is worth following.’
Twitter is also a powerful tool for measuring hot topics in real time and by using relevant hashtags (#) you can keep up to date with breaking industry news and trending topics.
Networking is for life
Like anything, the more you put into networking the more you’ll get out of it. And if you invest time now, you won’t have to work so hard when you do want a new job – and could even find yourself being headhunted.
‘You have to be proactive to get the most out of sites like LinkedIn,’ says Lees. ‘Update your profile with new skills and experience as you gain them, be an active member of groups and be proactive in requesting and giving recommendations.
‘Sites are always developing so it’s worth reading the company’s blog to keep up to with new features, tools and advancements too.’
With a little time and regular effort you’ll be networking like a pro – without even noticing it.