As your job search becomes more digital, old-fashioned networking practices have given way to online networking strategies. While networking events, phone calls and meetings are still widely utilized, social media has become the primary way many companies and business professionals communicate. Consider the following strategies to maximize your online networking efforts.
Target Your Outreach
Blanket social media blasts are not the most effective way to begin your online networking journey. Instead, target your efforts by narrowing down a list of companies and people you'd like to connect with. Follow five to 10 people or organizations, and look for opportunities to connect with these individuals via social media. Retweet their posts to your own followers, answer questions they ask, or provide thoughtful commentary on one of their Facebook or LinkedIn posts. Each of these actions plants a seed that can grow and build momentum over time, keeping you at the top of their mind and possibly opening the door to a more meaningful connection down the road.
Draw Contacts To You
Online networking involves more than just creating a profile and waiting for the connections to roll in. Maintain an active online presence by posting links to informative articles, providing thoughtful commentary, following key industry people, and linking to your professional website or profile. By consistently providing updates and information, you create a powerful online presence that attracts more people to your brand.
Combine Online Networking with In-Person Meetings
Online networking is an effective way to cast a wide net, but once you've roped in a great lead, try to move your relationship beyond the inbox. Look for any opportunities to attend in-person events and meetings in your area. Dorie Clark of Harvard Business Review suggests messaging one or more contacts on Twitter or LinkedIn and suggesting a time to connect at social or networking events.
One of the most important parts of online networking is following up with your circle. Once you've made contact with another professional in your industry, it's important not to lose momentum. After your initial conversation, continue to reach out in subtle yet thoughtful ways, such as sending a brief "thank you" note after a meeting or by forwarding information about upcoming networking events or opportunities. Don't just reach out to your network when you're in need of a job. Your goal must be to establish and maintain mutually beneficial professional relationships throughout your career.
Online networking is an effective way to make great professional connections. You may feel intimidated reaching out to strangers at first, but don't let this stop you, as online networking has become necessary in the business world. Use the internet to network during your job search and throughout your career.
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