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Online professional networking

Face-to-face networking is essential, but you can’t afford to ignore online networking.

More than 90 percent of companies are using social media to recruit. Why? Studies have shownand companies knowthat there are many benefits, including better candidates, more candidates, and a faster hiring process. Significantly, employees recruited via social media are more likely to be hired and stay longer than those recruited through openings listed on job boards.

Most of us are familiar with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which can be used for professional networking or, more often, to keep up with friends, people in the news, and personal interests. For professionals, however, the giant in the room is LinkedIn. It operates the world’s largest professional network with more than 400 million members worldwide, including 128 million in the U.S. That’s a lot of potential recruiters and contacts!

LinkedIn, like all social media sites, begins with your profile. Since your profile can be seen by anyone on LinkedIn, it’s a great chance to present your goals, experience, and qualifications to any of the 400+ million members who may be looking. Take time to make sure it looks professional, features a good current headshot, and contains only information relevant to your professional life. (Use other sites for personal interactions - like Facebook for posting funny cat videos, or Match.com for finding a date.) Consider online articles such as The Ultimate Guide to a Perfect LinkedIn Profile for additional help.

After you make yourself as attractive as possible to potential companies and recruiters, do you then just sit back and wait to be discovered? No!  You can do lots more on LinkedIn to help your career.

  • Grow your network. People in your LinkedIn network are called “connections.”  Send a personalized invitation to connect to everyone you know on the site. Spend a few minutes every day trying to expand your network as you meet new people. Explore your connections’ connections and see if you can get an introduction to someone who may work in a field or at a company you’re interested in. Accept invitations that come your way, as long as the person’s profile looks legitimate.
  • Reach out to connections with a polite, not pushy, “in mail” request for an informational interview or just to hear their story.  (You can meet in person, by phone, or via video conferencing using a free service such as Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts).
  • Join groups related to your profession and schools you attended, and job search groups for advice and encouragement. Keep up with the content, and demonstrate expertise by posting content and offering insight or advice when you can.  Be a resource to others. That goodwill you create might open doors for you someday.
  • Follow companies in your field to track news and job openings.
  • Keep your profile updated.