Social networking is the new way to get a job, and it will be for the foreseeable future. Bold statement, but it is true. Your connections are extremely valuable and are often privy to positions you don’t know about but definitely want to.
You are building your connections on any social networking platform (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, etc.) for the future. If you are only looking at “collecting” connections then you are approaching this thing the wrong way. By just lurking in the background, you are missing excellent opportunities to engage.
Your connections add value to your career every day, not only in what they have to share with you but in who they know. The cool game is no longer the six degrees of Kevin Bacon but it is the six degrees of you! Who do you know? Who knows you? How can you elevate yourself to Bacon status?
You should leverage your connections when it comes time to look for another position. The network you have built up and actively engaged with over the years is an asset, and now is the time to utilize it! And remember, the one of the best ways to forge a strong connection is to afford your network with the same assistance you expect them to provide you with. Just think, if you gave someone a lead which led to a job, they would likely go out of their way to help you in the future, much moreso than someone you just added on LinkedIn then never had any contact with.
Now, let’s delve a bit deeper. If you use a service like LinkedIn, you are able to figure out who in your network is connected to someone within a particular company. Pretty cool if you are looking for a new position. Through this search you are able to check out the titles and responsibilities of people within the target company and maybe even find someone in a role in which you would be interested in working. If that person happens to be a second degree connection (a friend of a friend), consider asking for an introduction. An easy way to get a foot in the door!
Alternately, once you’ve found that networking target, you can dig through their social media history… maybe come across a blog they own or a Twitter feed. You can begin to interact with them directly without letting any intentions be known. Over time and through your conversations, you can further develop the topics into your more specific interest and even a play for an interview.
Sound a bit far fetched? Not so much. As a corporate recruiter, I become flattered when someone takes the time to do their homework on me first. It shows that not only are they interested in my company but they are willing to take extra steps to make a positive first impression.
Social networking gives you the tools to find people of interest and make a great first impression. It is up to you to make the most of that impression, and parlay it into a strong contact for your future or immediate benefit.
Keith McIlvaine is a Social Media Strategist within HR and Recruiting for a Fortune 500 company. When he is not focused on leveraging social media and networking, Keith is also a personal branding coach and social media mentor. He is passionate about his family and is a major soccer fanatic. Follow Keith on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. The statements I have posted on this site are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.