005_321204-Facebook_Twitter_and_More_The_New_Rules_of_Social_Networking by isbangee

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									Facebook, Twitter and More: The New Rules of Social Networking
By Elaine Pofeldt published on BNET.com 7/16/2009

If you aren’t using social-media sites to tap into career and business opportunities in today’s tough economy, you should be. A survey released in January by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that more than one-third of all Americans now have profiles on social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, up from just 8 percent in 2005. And it’s not primarily kids, either: The average LinkedIn user is 40 years old; most Twitter users are now 35 and older; and people from 35 to 54 now represent the biggest group of users on Facebook. “You get access to people via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter that you can’t get in other ways,” says Sharon Rich, founder of outplacement consulting and coaching firm Leadership Incorporated. “I think it’s mandatory to be on there.” Social-media sites can become a time suck, so you’ll need to limit the time you invest in them each week. But done right, social networking is a powerful way to build your professional reputation, find out about job opportunities, and keep abreast of the latest news and gossip in your industry.

Things you will need:
• An updated resume. Have this handy so you can transfer relevant information to different social-media sites quickly. • A digital photo of yourself. Get a good head shot of yourself showing you at your professional best to use in your profiles. • Your e-mail contact list. Once you join a network, you’ll want to quickly send invitations to connect to your professional contacts. In many cases, this can be done automatically using tools on each site.

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Build a Powerhouse Profile on LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s business-only focus makes the site popular with successful professionals (so far, the site has 43 million members in more than 200 countries), so it’s the best place to start your social-media push. LinkedIn’s large amount of traffic also means that your profile there is likely to be the first thing that potential employers and clients see when they google your name, so it’s important to invest some time in building a strong profile. “Why not tell the story your way?” says Randy Hain, managing partner of Bell Oaks Executive Search in Atlanta. Hain knows firsthand the value of a good profile: He recently signed a client (who will do an estimated $100,000 to $200,000 worth of new business this year) when the client searched for Hain’s LinkedIn profile after reading an article he wrote in a trade publication.

Checklist
How to Shape Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn
• Seek out recommendations from past bosses, key clients, colleagues, and direct reports to create a 360-degree picture of your strengths. Tell them that you’ll be happy to do the same for them. • Instead of a generic job title at the top of your profile, such as “Owner of John Doe and Associates,” use a short description of valuable credentials that you can quantify, such as “20-year veteran of $100 million in high-tech mergers,” advises Chris Muccio, author of the book 42 Rules for 24-Hour Success on LinkedIn. • Fill out the “Interests” section with pursuits, such as charitable projects, that reinforce your value to potential employers and clients. • For consistency and branding, use a good head shot of yourself as your photo, and use the same photo on other social networks, advises Megan Hendricks, director, employer relations at the College of Business at the University of South Florida. • Opt for a free vanity address for your profile that uses your full name, such as linkedin.com/in/janedoe, so colleagues can find your profile easily.

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Use LinkedIn’s Tools to Research Potential Job Opportunities

LinkedIn’s profiles of more than 360,000 businesses and organizations can be used to gather invaluable intelligence on job openings and opportunities. Start by entering your target company’s name in the search bar at the top of the page and specifying “Search Companies” to find its LinkedIn profile. From there, you can see the names of current employees that are in your network, job openings, the names of recent hires, employees who have left the firm, and even the top feeder company and the most popular next employer among those who have left. You can also choose to “Search Answers” on the name of a particular firm to see questions its employees have posted for other members to answer, their replies to other questions, and Q&As that mention the company. These pages can provide useful information on the corporate culture or current challenges the company is trying to solve that will help you with your cover letter and interview strategies. To find out about unadvertised job opportunities, try contacting people you know at the target company, including those who are second- or third-degree connections (to contact them, you’ll need to get an introduction from your mutual contact first). If your network is small and you don’t know anyone at the target company, consider upgrading to a paid business account on LinkedIn, which starts at $24.95 a month. With one of these accounts, you can contact anyone on the site directly, although there’s a limit on how many people outside your network you can contact per month. When contacting strangers, it’s a good idea to browse their profile and see if there’s any common ground in either their work or personal interests you can point to that will make your initial message warmer. Another way to expand your network is by joining LinkedIn discussion groups pertaining to your industry and becoming active in posing and answering questions. Bill Snyder, 42, recently ended a long job search by answering a question on LinkedIn about which were the best conferences for meeting the heads of nonprofit organizations. The question turned out to have been posted by the founder of a start-up called We-Care.com, who then invited Snyder to a lunch the next time he was in town. One month later, he offered Snyder a job as the company’s general manager.

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Tweet Your Way to Greater Career Visibility

Twitter is a fast-growing “microblogging” site that lets you send out frequent 140-character messages (“tweets”) to a network of people who have opted to follow you, as well as to follow the updates of anyone in your network. Many professionals use Twitter to send short bits of useful information, such as business tips or links to interesting articles, to help build their professional visibility and make new contacts. The trick is to make sure you limit yourself to messages that are truly useful (or at least entertaining), so that they’re of value to your followers. To make sure you build an appropriate audience, go to the “Settings” menu and check the box that says “Protect My Updates.” This will enable you to approve each new follower request — a smart move if you want to block spammers on the site. Conversely, choosing to follow well-connected thought leaders in your field can help keep you abreast of trends in your industry, as well as the latest gossip. One good way to find people and sites in your industry is to search by what are called “hash tags” — key words preceded by the “#” sign that people can include in their tweets to make them searchable. For example, to find people posting about law or lawyers, you’d search under “#lawyer,” take a look at all the relevant tweets, and then choose to follow some of the people or groups with the most interesting posts.

Master the Delicate Art of Using Facebook Effectively

Facebook can be a great way to reconnect with old friends who may now be in a position to help you with your career goals, as well as to stay in touch with colleagues on the site. But since there’s always a chance that someone in your network could post an embarrassing photo of you or make comments you don’t want your work contacts to see, make sure you’re familiar with the site’s privacy settings before building out your network of friends. Go to “Settings” at the top of your page, choose “Privacy” from the pull-down menu, and you’ll come to a page that lets you control who can see almost every posted item on your page, who can post messages to your wall, and even whether strangers can search for you and how much of your profile they can see. Facebook is also rife with professional groups that you can join and subsequently exchange news with others in your industry and make new contacts. Simply type in the name of your

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profession or industry into the search bar and you’ll see a list of relevant groups, most of which you can join immediately. While these groups on Facebook are sometimes not as active and professionally focused as those on LinkedIn, they still can be a good way to meet new people. Facebook can be particularly useful for getting the word out and building a community around a new business venture, but experts advise setting up a separate “fan page” of your venture to avoid making your personal page too promotional. John Mooney, principal of marketing firm JRM Communications LLC, recently advised a Manhattan client who sells waffles from a mobile truck to create a Facebook group. The client sends out news of the truck’s future whereabouts to people in his network that he’s invited to become fans, which has helped increase sales significantly. “They’re all in New York, and they’re all really into food,” says Mooney of the group’s members. But of course. Social networking is all about quickly finding people in every possible niche. Especially the one that matters most to your career: that marvelous niche of folks who might just help you succeed.

More on MoneyWatch: • Social Networking's New Rules • 6 Things You Should Never Do on Twitter or Facebook • Online Makeovers for Baby Boomers

Copyright © 2009 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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