Recently I’ve been out and about touring some universities to speak to students about networking online. We know that in the competitive workplace, networking can give you the edge. However if you’re new to the workplace, have few professional contacts so far and are not sure who to connect with, it can seem very daunting.
Following on from my social media job-hunt sessions and taking into account the great questions and feedback I’ve heard from some extremely talented students, I’ve put together a five-part series exploring networking from the basics to leveraging your contacts professionally.
The first part of this, to introduce the series is this: Finding the right people online
Social networking is fun to do with friends, but did you know that your friends are the best place to start building a professional network? Assuming you have already built some form of network on Facebook, you can use it to reach more people on other networks.
For example, your Facebook friends are a great place to start when it comes to LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be tricky as if you have no connections, or only one connection, you will be automatically flagged as a potential spammer when you attempt to join groups – which is a shame as belonging to groups can give you access to some very helpful, engaged people who may be both willing and able to help you find a position.
So on LinkedIn, put out some connect requests to a few people you already know and get over that ‘one connection hump’ as I refer to it. Go back later and start searching for groups in your fields of interest, contribute and participate in discussions, and add the people you interact with.
Similarly, on BraveNewTalent, as well as being able to invite friends to join you on the platform from Facebook, you can get a good insight into how helpful your current friends network is with your infographics. For example, mine give me some interesting information about the sectors I already have friends in.
Knowing people inside industries not only may help you get into a company in that sector, but your contacts can help you decide if it’s the right career path for you. Here on BraveNewTalent we try to utilise experts to give an idea of what it’s really like to work inside a company.
Twitter is also a great place to kick-start relationships online and as you can follow anyone, all you need to do is use search to find the type of people you would like to connect with.
My story started a bit like this. At university one of our lecturers told us about Twitter (in a very ‘It’ll never take off’ kind of a way: I wonder how he feels about that now?) so I thought I’d check it out. I didn’t really get it but once I was thinking about broadening my network I revisited it and followed lots of people I found with ‘journalist’ in their bio. I connected, early on, with reporters for major newspapers, influential bloggers and experienced writers. I joined in with their conversations and when I was looking for work experience I received a lot of help from Twitter. I’m now using it to learn from other community managers as well as keep up with everything and everyone.
So to sum up: finding the right people
- Start with your friends, family and others you know well
- Use the BraveNewTalent infographics to discover industries and companies you are already connected to
- Connect with people with similar interests, industries and groups as you on LinkedIn
- Search Twitter and follow people in your field
Next week I’ll be taking you through building your network including approaching people to connect and the best ways getting to know your new contacts.
The series: Online Networking