To Facebook or not to Facebook? That is the question. How does social networking fit into your regular networking – and how is it different?
We asked these questions of John Burton, manager of customized training for ICATT and presenter at WorkSource’s workshops on social networking. John believes that mastering social networking is an important goal for jobseekers, but he offers specific advice on how to do it well.
“First,” John says, “Social media sites provide a way to expand your network strategically. You want to connect with people who are working – who are in the loop about what jobs are coming open in the future at their companies or those they work with. By the time you find a job posting and apply for it, the field is pretty crowded, and it’s hard to stand out.”
Burton is clear on how to draw the line between your personal and public digital footprint. “You probably need to have two profiles if you’re on Facebook. A personal one, where you can post family photos and express yourself, and a professional one that you use to link to potential job contacts.” John cautions people that a Facebook account can offer too much information for professional network contacts: your political views, your religious affiliation, your ethnicity – all things that shouldn’t be front and center as you leverage your network in searching for your next job.
Your professional profile should eliminate personal information, according to Burton. Instead, focus on your work history, your community service, and your professional accomplishments. He prefers LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) for job search networking because it is designed specifically for professionals. On LinkedIn, you can search for people you know (or want to connect with) but you can also use it to research companies.
A search for “CSX,” for example, gave me the following:
- The company size, locations, and divisions
- The number of employees who work or have worked for the company in the LinkedIn network (500.) 46 were connected to my connections.
- LinkedIn also gave me the links to five current employees at CSX (including titles like Assistant VP of Compliance,) five recent hires at the company, and five former employees.
- The page also offered insight into the most common career paths of people who worked for CSX (The U.S. Military being one) and universities employees attended.
What social media sites do that can’t be done in person is show you how everyone in your company or city is connected. When you meet someone at a Chamber mixer, you get to know them, but couldn’t possible cover all their previous work history and connections in a normal social conversation. After you meet, though, connecting on LinkedIn will reveal those connections in a few clicks. If you want to get to know someone inside a company, social media is the way to go.