One aspect of career planning that is sometimes overlooked is the importance of networking, both in the real world and online. Statistically, only a fraction of available higher education positions are publicly advertised, so it is critical to cast a wide net in your job search. Online networking can help job seekers connect to advocates and decision-makers.
Here are some great tips to help you put your name and credentials out there and land the right job!
- Start with those who know you best, but don’t be afraid to branch out. The people who can help you most are those who know you best. Let your friends, family, and professional colleagues know you’re on the hunt. Not only can they provide you with valuable leads, they can introduce you to others and help you expand your network. Online networking is a great way to keep in contact with former coworkers, employers, and classmates, and enlist their assistance.
- Learn to use social media effectively. Social media is a great tool for network building if you learn to use it right. Join professional outlets such as LinkedIn and actively engage other social outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. This is a good way to reach out to other professionals in your industry, reestablish contact with former associates, keep your network informed, and stay current on trends in your industry. It is also a good idea to do routine checks of your online presence. Google yourself on a regular basis to look for inconsistencies and false or unflattering information. Prospective employers are turning to web searches more often to check out job candidates ahead of time. Remember that what you do and say online can come back to haunt you.
- Reciprocity is key. Networking is a give and take relationship, not a one way street. Share ideas and information with your network. Actively engage in forums, blogs, and other online communities. Add benefit to your interactions with others in your network, but do so with sincerity and integrity.
- Narrow your focus and follow up. Know exactly what you’re looking for before you look to your network for help and information. Monitor your social media time as well. Remember that these sites are great online networking tools and don’t get caught up in the social aspect of the medium. While these sites are fun and interesting, they are sometimes also a drain on your time and productivity. Make sure to follow up any leads from your network with diligence. Information is only helpful if you use it, and it helps you to maintain credibility. People are less willing to recommend someone who lacks commitment and follow through.
- Network for the long term. Networking should never considered be a quick solution to job placement, but a means of building ongoing professional relationships.
Online networking isn’t about applying pressure or asking for favors. Networking is an excellent way to make contacts and establish professional relationships that are fulfilling and mutually beneficial. Extending your professional network to cyberspace is an excellent way to expand your contact base beyond your immediate geographic location and increase your exposure in the job market.