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With competition at a feverish pitch, job seekers and business owners need to distinguish themselves from everyone else to get ahead. Statistics show many jobs are filled via networking; successful applicants had an advocate inside the company. Networking well requires two things: 1) making sure as many people as possible know about the candidate and 2) convincing those people the job seeker is the best candidate to get the job done. It’s important to establish a community of people willing to facilitate an introduction, set up an informational meeting or hand-deliver a resume to a hiring manager. Social networking addresses these problems; it helps job hunters demonstrate their subject matter expertise and unique value to a broad audience while growing a community of contacts willing to refer them for opportunities. In my new book, Social Networking for Career Success, I teach readers how to use social media efficiently to demonstrate their expertise and illustrates how to get the word out about a job search without specifically asking for help. While millions use social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and hundreds of thousands own blogs, many don’t understand exactly how to leverage these networks to improve their chances to land jobs and build career visibility. Here are some tips for anyone considering using social networking to get ahead professionally: Don’t expect social networking to be a magic career wand. Job seekers must have expertise, and be willing to listen first and learn the rules of engagement. Just as approaching a stranger on the street to ask for a job isn’t socially acceptable, no one should expect strangers online to flock to help until there’s a viable connection. Do present a consistent, professional profile in social networking bios. Pick keywords people would use to identify the job or role of interest. For example, I incorporate “job search/social media coach” and “resume writer” in my profiles. Use job descriptions, company and industry websites and blogs and information from professional conference materials to identify your field’s keywords. Include them in your online bios. Use Alltop.com to find other niche bloggers. Regularly read and leave useful and meaningful comments on their blogs. Bloggers should generously link to and refer to colleagues in articles. Share those posts via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Be sure to include colleagues’ Twitter names and/or tag them on Facebook. Use WeFollow.com or Listorious.com to find people on Twitter who share professional interests. Search via keywords and follow selected colleagues, potential mentors and superstars. Review their Twitter streams, retweet their posts, respond to their questions and ask for clarification when appropriate. You may be surprised how a few casual tweets can result in a strong online relationship. I’ve even seen people build business relationships as a result of casual tweets about television shows, restaurant recommendations and sports. In fact, that’s happened to me! Don’t be afraid to show your personality online! Once there is an established connection, it’s okay to ask for an introduction or advice. However, don’t jump into asking for a favor the minute the person follows you back. It’s better to focus on what you can give. Use online platforms to pass along useful professional advice and information. For example, post links and insightful comments on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Remind friends, fans and followers about professional goals and skills by consistently including updates illustrating key knowledge, skills and abilities. Social Networking for Career Success is full of other tips, tricks, insights, success stories and advice from me and over 100 career and hiring professionals to illustrate how social networking impacts professional and career goals. Learn more at the book’s updated site: www.socialnetworkingforcareersuccess.com. Miriam Salpeter is owner and founder of Keppie Careers, a coaching and consulting firm helping job seekers and entrepreneurs leverage social media and other tools to achieve their goals. Photo credit: Shutterstock
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