Whether you are networking on LinkedIn, Facebook, Viadeo, or other sites, the written and unwritten rules of behavior are much the same. These tips will help you get the most from your social networking activities and keep you in the good graces of other members.
- Create a complete profile on each site. Make yourself appealing online. Make sure that your professional image on these business networking sites isn’t tarnished by radically different portrayals of your personality on some of the personal networking sites. Consistency in your profile, site to site, is also important, so ensure the same level of detail and quality regardless of the site it’s on. If you can’t keep your profile up-to-date on multiple sites, it’s better to stick with just one site (or just one personal and one professional).
- Grow your network. Whether you subscribe to the “bigger is better” theory or are more comfortable with the “close and personal” strategies for growing your network, you need a reasonable number of connections to make good things happen. How you define reasonable depends on your field and your needs, but for many people, a reasonable size of an online network might be at least 50 to 150 people.
- Facilitate introductions. As part of a large online network, you should help other people connect. You can recommend them if you know them and are comfortable doing so. Or just say “for your consideration” if you don’t know them well. The old theory about “my reputation is on the line” when making introductions is, in our opinion, just that—old! Networking introductions are much more fluid online.
- Remember your manners. Treat people virtually as you would in face-to-face gatherings—kindly and with respect. Don’t wear out your welcome or bombard them with repeated requests for introductions to others. They are likely to drop you from their networks.
- Be selfish. Remember that networking is a two-way street. You need to give as well as you get, help other people, and not just be looking selfishly at how you can benefit from the interaction
- Have unrealistic expectations. Don’t expect something good from every connection. Just as in live networking settings, not every contact is a helpful contact. But even if you don’t see yourself doing business with someone, you never know whom that person might know or how you might provide assistance to him or her or one of that person’s contacts in the future
- Try to accomplish too much too fast. Build rapport first. Just as you wouldn’t walk up to someone at an initial meeting and immediately ask for favors, introductions, jobs, or business deals, you shouldn’t do that online, either. Wait until the person knows you and has some investment in helping you connect, likely in a second or third conversation or exchange
- Spend all your time online and ignore offline networking strategies. Both are important, and the need to meet people face-to-face or by phone.
Excerpt from Find a Job Through Social Networking: Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and More to Advance Your Career (© JIST Publishing) by Diane Crompton and Ellen Sautter.