The days of the three-martini lunches are gone — and they have been for decades. Companies and professionals alike now converge online by default. It’s easier. It’s in real-time. And it’s much less expensive than hundred-dollar bar tabs. However, with greater accessibility comes greater responsibility. Are you managing your online networking effectively? Are you on the right channels? LinkedIn is an obvious option for job seekers and working professionals, but how about Facebook or Twitter? Where do you start?
There are countless places to build your professional presence online. To ensure that you’re using them effectively, consider these tips for enhancing your personal brand — and improving your chances of connecting with the right people.
The opportunity to connect with hundreds of people with a few clicks is empowering, and making a great first impression is more critical than ever. Your online profile is often the first thing a potential contact sees. Make it matter.
Having an in-depth understanding of a company and its industry is a prerequisite for anyone applying for a job. Today’s job seeker is more fortunate than those from previous generations: It’s easier than ever to research companies online. Corporate websites, social media and an array of online industry publications offer unprecedented insight into an organization — its values, its culture, its work and, of course, its open positions.
Social media in particular provides a steady stream of information from and about the companies you care about most. If they have a presence on the most popular social media channels, follow them on each channel to receive regular updates. If they’re using social media effectively, the content they post will vary by channel. Take the three most popular channels for example:
Information overload is an epidemic on the Internet, with millions of publishers looking to grab your attention. This environment provides an excellent opportunity to position yourself as a curator of content — and a valuable member of the networks to which you belong. Help your connections and followers sift through the torrent of information by sharing what matters most to them. Use curation apps like Feedly and Klout to help you find and share news with your networks quickly and effectively.
LinkedIn, in its efforts to make connecting to others easier, has also created an unfortunate side effect. With a click you can send someone an invitation to connect, complete with a generic message. This impersonal message is often easy to overlook. Instead, try reaching out to a potential contact through a personalized message that notes shared references, contacts, groups or interests. Compliment them on a recent accomplishment. Or simply share with them why you’d like to connect in the first place. Be honest and humble.
Good deeds can happen digitally, too. Look for ways to help others in your network. Write them a recommendation. Share one of their posts. Introduce them to someone else in your network who shares a similar interest. Alert them to a job opening. Pay it forward. You’d be surprised how often others will do the same.
Creating connections takes real effort. Don’t let it go to waste by losing touch with those connections. Find opportunities to reach out: Share an article, congratulate them on a promotion, invite them to an event or simply send a friendly hello every once in a while.
While nothing will ever replace the handshake, online networking has certainly made it easier to make valuable connections. But the art of building and maintaining relationships still requires hard work and a human touch. Remember that before you click to connect.