Social networking groups provide both instruction and diversion. Some workplaces have blocked and encouraged the use of social networking groups. Job seekers should decide which social network to use not based on press, but on purpose: are you trying to connect with friends, market yourself or make new business connections? If you are trying to connect with friends, such as former classmates or co-workers, use Facebook. If you are looking for business connections, use sites created for networking, such as LinkedIn or Ryze.
Social networking groups
Job seekers can use the following tools and techniques to make the most of social networking sites:
Keep your online profile up to date. Some sites include a printable resume and the ability to post and share recommendations from former co-workers and contacts. The more current your profile is, the more likely you are to be contacted about job or contract opportunities, since frequent users are more likely to answer queries.
Join relevant professional groups within the site. Professional groups encourage the use of social networks after industry events to stay connected or they can form groups within the network to meet people with similar professional knowledge.
Knowledge sharing increases your value on the network. Beyond connecting people, your knowledge is important currency and can increase your prominence and value on the network. If you have an opportunity to answer questions, wisely and relevantly, take part in the forum.
Combine data with mashups. Mashups are programs that show the intersection between information in two databases, such as looking for a pizzeria in Google and then finding a map that shows you where to find it. LinkedIn, for example, provides job postings and allows you to make contacts within their network to research the organization.
Use higher security settings, and discretion, on friendship sites. Set your pictures so that only friends on your network can see them. Avoid posting pictures that show subjects using alcohol or in the nude. Ask your friends not to post, or tag you, as you can on Facebook, in such pictures on their profiles; tagged files are becoming increasingly accessible to search engines and therefore to prospective employers.
Put your energy into one site. If you are using social networks to find out about career opportunities, focus on those sites to make the best profile and to have the most interactions. Don’t chose a site based on population but on relevance to your career. Smaller, more specific sites, are popping up all over the Internet, thanks to tools such as Ning, that allow people to build their own social network.
Turn online connections into face to face meeting. There are social networking services, such as Meetup that people can use to find locals to form groups, such as job clubs, or you can be invited to social events based on your professional allegiances. Face to face is where you are most likely to meet the people with hiring power and social networks are one way to find out where the “meetups” will be.
Networking online, just like networking face-to-face, takes time: building connections, offering assistance and investigating leads is not an instantaneous, click-send, proposition. Career development, changing careers or relocating, are all time-consuming work search projects that can be augmented by a social networking site, but these online tools can help you stay in touch with contacts and make new ones who can support you in your job search.
All services mentioned in this article, and additional sources on social networking, are bookmarked on del.icio.us.
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