The term networking isn’t my favorite. It makes it sound like you have to do some high tech fancy stuff to make connections. But that’s not true! Most of you are probably already on social networks or have already made some kind of professional connection without even really thinking about it. Networking, in person and online, is important though, and will only get more important as you get older.
When should you start networking? Right now! The sooner you start the better. There are four main social media platforms you should be on to really bolster your connections: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Though Google+ is new to the scene, it has quickly become one of the biggies in getting your name out there. With a Google+, your posts are more likely to show up higher on search results, making it easier for potential employers to find and approve of you. If you like writing and have the time, a blog is also a great way to start getting your work and name out there.
Just being on these sites isn’t enough, however. You need to keep what you’re saying and doing professional. That doesn’t mean you have to go back to your Facebook posts from middle school or high school talking about your break up or mishap with a face mask—though you might want to anyway, with that whole weird timeline thing that can bring people anywhere in your past (creepy!). Not everything you post has to be completely professional or impersonal either. In fact, you want your employers and connections to get some sense of who you are outside what you want to do with your life.
There are some basic tips you can follow to keep your profiles tasteful, personable and professional. Make sure you’re using proper grammar and spelling. On Twitter with only 140 characters to use, sometimes it’s hard to write in complete sentences, but at the very least make sure what you are saying makes sense. Don’t write Facebook statuses with “$up hom3sk!ll3t” or any other weird spellings associations.
Avoid swearing! Though they’re rather common these days and might slip out of your mouth in daily conversation, filter online! Remember, you may be friends with your young cousins and you don’t want to be accused of being a bad influence. Also avoid posting every single thing you do in a day. Your Twitter account and Facebook feed shouldn’t be filled with “Walked the dog. Text it” or “Now I’m eating a grilled cheese. Getting ready for the movies. Then partay!” Only update on important life moments, like getting into college or nailing a job interview, and post about other things relevant to your career or goals. Don’t be afraid to share links to news articles or blog posts you liked or retweet a favorite company of yours—in fact, the more retweeting you do, the higher the likelihood for you to get noticed and maybe give you a boost on the competition.
A good way to start building your connections is to simply search for people you know and get talking. Whenever you get a new job or internship, update all of your profiles and start connecting with others who work there. Be friendly and try to start conversations; even if you don’t get a response, keep trying (but only once every three days at the most, you don’t want to look like a psycho). If you have a blog or website, promote it frequently by tweeting the URL and sharing posts on all your other platforms. The more active you are the better as long as the information is relevant, interesting and shows your personality.
Finally, the best way to really get going is to just jump in and experiment. Even if you’re shy, adopt an outgoing online persona and reach out to people. Follow and friend request companies you’re interested and people who could potentially land you a job in the future. Most importantly, don’t forget about networking in person. Professors, people working in offices on campus, local companies you visit can all prove to be beneficial to your future. The more friends, the merrier—even if they don’t ultimately land you the job!
I’m reading Modern Management: Concepts and Skills