The 3 Steps to Networking Online

How you can use social media networks to help your career

Here’s a little secret about the job search: employers don’t always hire the person with the best resume and qualifications. Sometimes job seekers are hired because they know someone within the organization. That may not seem fair, but there is something you can do about it—networking.

Professional networking has always been integral to career advancement. Social networks are another way to make those connections. It is important to remember that networking is about more than just finding a job. The goal should be to find like-minded people who share your interests and passions, with whom you can build a mutually beneficial relationship. If you do that, when an opportunity for a job comes along, you’ll be the first person they think of.

Professional networking through social media may seem intimidating, especially if you don’t think you know the right people, but the truth is that you already have everything you need to get started.

Step 1: Reach Out to Everyone You Know. And Don’t Know. 

The most important thing you can do to effectively network on social media is to connect with people you don’t know well to expand your contacts.

Chances are that you are unlikely to find job opportunities through a close friend or family member because they know a lot of the same people that you do. It’s important to connect with them, but you are a lot more likely to get referred to a job by someone you don’t know as well. That is because acquaintances probably have a network of people you don’t know, and the ability to make introductions. In fact, finding a job through weak ties can lead to higher pay and satisfaction

Use multiple social networks to reach out to anyone you have the slightest connection to. Start with extended family, alumni from schools you’ve attended, employees of companies you have worked for (even if you’ve never met), thought leaders in your industry, and members of clubs, organizations, or social media groups you are in. It might feel awkward, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. The worst that can happen is that your requests aren’t accepted—the same place you are now.

Step 2: Get Involved

To build professional relationships on social networks, engage with the content that your new connections share.

As you add more connections, your social media newsfeeds will be populated with content from a more varied group of people. Take in these new perspectives and get to know the type of content they are putting out there. Then, start engaging.

Like, share, and comment on the posts you see. Doing so signals to the poster that you’re a fan of their content, and could even create a positive physical reaction in their brain. When someone receives an interaction on something they share, their brain produces dopamine, a chemical response associated with pleasure. Increasing the number of likes a contact has not only makes them look good to their followers, it makes them feel good, too. And you’ll be the source of that feeling.

Step 3: Share Your Passions

Build professional relationships on social networks by standing out with content that highlights the topics you are passionate about.

Social media is a two-way street. If you see someone’s posts, they can likely see yours. This is your chance to let them know about your passions, interests, and who you are as a person. Everybody has multiple interests, hobbies, and perspectives. Being authentic will help you stand out in a crowded newsfeed and attract other people who are interested in the same topics that you are. (Just be sure the content you share is appropriate. Skip topics that you wouldn’t discuss in an actual workplace.)

Carefully curated content that makes it look like your life is perfect may look pretty, but it makes for a boring story. Being real about your goals and passions will grow interest as you take your network on a journey with you. Whether you are working on restoring an old car, learning a new language, or on a mission to get healthy, sharing your story will engage followers and turn them into fans who are invested in seeing you achieve your goals. The network of “strangers” you originally connected with, won’t feel that way once they see your full personality and share in your progress.

Once you’ve built out your network on social media, pay attention to the connections who like and comment on the items you post. They likely share your same passions or are just interested in you as a person. Reach out to those people, taking the relationship off a social network and into the real world. Once you’re ready to take that step, here are a few networking tips to help you keep up the momentum.

 

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