Along with so many other aspects of executive job search in the digital age, networking has changed and expanded.
Sticking solely to older methods — phone calls, in-person networking events, snail mail, etc. — puts you at a great disadvantage.
Neglecting social networking has damaging effects:
- You’ll seriously limit avenues to opportunities.
- You’ll be perceived as out-of-date with social media and the new world of work, therefore a less desirable candidate.
- You’ll have a harder time staying top-of-mind with your network and people who can help you reach your career goals.
LinkedIn is the most important place to establish a strong presence and actively network.
But don’t stop there.
3 Ways To Make Social Networking Count
In a Harvard Business Review article, Dorie Clark suggests these 3 powerful ways to connect online, beyond LinkedIn. I’ve adjusted these to focus specifically on job search networking:
1. Master a proactive outreach.
Don’t waste too much time on aimless social media blasts. Narrow your efforts to people who work at the companies or organizations you’re targeting.
“Pick 5-10 people. Follow them on social media, and take note of which channels they seem to use most regularly. Look for opportunities to engage with that person, retweeting their posts with your own audience, answering a question they may ask, or sharing a thoughtful response to one of their updates.”
This approach builds momentum over time. The idea is to slowly and gently become known to these people, and stay top-of-mind with them, by engaging in small ways every few weeks. Ultimately, you’ll hope to win an in-person meet with them.
2. Attract contacts to you.
Put yourself in a position of power by creating a social media presence that draws people you want to meet to you.
“Write thoughtful articles (or create podcasts or video) that share useful information and your point of view on a given topic.”
Write about topics of interest to these people, demonstrating your subject matter expertise and thought leadership. If possible, mention these people in the content. If they’ve set up a Google Alert for their name, they’re likely to come across it.
3. Develop a “bookend” strategy to complement in-person networking.
Strive to move the best leads beyond virtual networking to a phone call and/or in-person meeting.
Virtual networking works best when it’s not happening in isolation. Once you’ve created “warm leads” and have made preliminary contact with faraway contacts, you can solidify your connection by advancing to an in-person meeting.
“If you know you’ll have the opportunity to meet someone at a conference (the organizers often share the speaker or attendee list), you can message them in advance via LinkedIn, or Twitter if they seem to be active there, introducing yourself and suggesting a time to connect at the event. Few people are that organized and deliberate about their networking, so your message is likely to stand out.”
Use social media to keep that connection alive after meeting them. Regular posting/updates on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networks will keep you top-of-mind with them when a good-fit opportunity for you comes their way.