It’s hard to network over coffee when coffee shops are closed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made in-person meetings impractical—and yet networking remains one of the best tools for a successful job search (read more here about how to network). Luckily, moving your networking online during this time is simple and effective.
Why use online networking tools?
Online networking helps you learn about industries and companies. You can meet job networking contacts or people who can help you find work. Networking sites are a great way to market yourself. Companies use them to find and check out employees before they decide to interview or hire them.
Which online networking tools should you use?
There are many social tools and networking sites that can help with your job search. Here are a few of the most common ones:
is a useful site for people in professional jobs. Over 165 million U.S. users use it to keep up-to-date about their industry, have discussions, and find job openings. You can use LinkedIn to:
- Create and maintain an online identity. This profile tells an employer your skills, career goals, and work experience.
- Connect with those in your field and other people by adding them to your group of "connections." Connections may ask for recommendations from each other and share events and trends.
- Join groups and discussions of interest to you and your career goals. Find LinkedIn groups in your industry. Or create your own networking group. Groups are also a good place to ask questions and learn about job leads.
is a popular tool for getting to know others and letting them get to know you too. How you use Facebook is your choice.
- If you use it to stay in touch with friends and family, play online games, and post your pictures, keep your privacy settings as high as possible. Your profile may include a great deal of private information that would be illegal for an employer to ask. Some of it may hurt your chances of landing a job.
- If you choose to use it for career purposes, it is important to clean up your profile. Remove any posts, comments, photos, or online games that an employer might not approve of. Also, be careful about which groups you join and how you act online.
has become a useful tool for job seekers and employers. When you follow a Twitter user, you can see their messages (up to 140 characters) called "tweets." The latest tweets will show up at the top of your Twitter page or mobile device. You can search for tweets about job openings or send a link to your resume in a tweet.
The key to making Twitter work for you is to use hashtags. Hashtags are keywords (words that describe what you are looking for) following the # symbol. They allow Twitter users to "tag" their messages to make searching by a certain topic easier. If you click one of these hashtags in a message, Twitter will pull up all the recent tweets that use those keywords. Common hashtags used for job searches are:
Blogs are a common way for people and companies to get information out. Find blogs that keep you up-to-date about your career or industry by searching the Internet for keywords and phrases you're interested in .
What to know before you log on
Some sites let you read discussions and job postings without joining. Most sites only let you see or add content after you've created an account. Be careful about what you say about yourself and the items you put online:
- Don't list personal information or post comments, photos, or videos that you wouldn't want an employer to see.
- Think of everything you put online as public information.
- Do an online search of your name to see what information and/or images of you are on the Internet.
- Be careful of scams for fake job positions, training, or job search help.
For online group discussions, follow these tips:
- Find out if the online group has FAQs (frequently asked questions). Read them before participating.
- Stick to the topic.
- Limit your response to the current subject.
- Don't change the subject in the middle of the thread.
- Begin a new discussion if you want to change the subject.
- Consider when to respond to the group or to a specific individual.
- Respond to the individual if your reply is personal, off topic, or you want to limit the response.
- Respond to the group when your reply is of interest to the group.