5 Tips for Building a Professional Network Online

In today’s web-driven society, it is safe to say that most people agree it is important to have an online presence. While an online profile is commonly used to maintain a social network, it is also a helpful, if not required, tool to establish yourself as an astute working professional. According to a survey from Jobvite 94% of recruiters used, or planned to use social media for recruiting in 2013, and this number has increased with each year. So with this in mind, here are 5 tips for building a professional network online.

1. Build your personal brand online

An important element in successful networking is making a good first impression. The first time you connect with someone may well be over an online social network, for example Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook or Google+. It can be harder to make a good first impression online due to the inability to convey tone or facial expression, so it’s important to ensure that your presence online is ‘well branded’.

As explained in these personal branding tips from Mashable, it is important to develop a ‘personal brand statement’ describing what you do and who you serve, as well as what makes you unique. Once you have your ‘personal brand statement’, you must ensure that you communicate it in a consistent way across all your online platforms. This is important to help you make the best possible impression on anyone in your professional network (or who you are trying to put in your professional network) who looks you up online.

A recent survey from CareerBuilder found that 51 percent of employers have not hired candidates because of the content on their social media profiles. This is why it is critical to make sure every comment, tweet, status update, picture or blog post is consistent with the personal brand that you want to convey. Consider whether any of your social platforms need a review. Is there an old job on your Linkedin profile that isn’t relevant to your industry? Are there any photos on Facebook which mis-represent your ‘personal brand’?

Make sure that you monitor all your online profiles regularly so they remain accurate, professional, and current.

2. Learn to use Linkedin effectively

Perhaps one of the most useful online tools for networking, having a Linkedin profile is an expectation of most employers nowadays. Some of the best ways to network on Linkedin include:

  • Updating your status regularly- for example what you’re reading or working on. This helps to keep on your network’s radar by showing up in their news feeds regularly. It also can help to show you’re widely read and have interesting opinions and ideas.
  • Joining Groups– Linkedin allows you to join groups like professionals in your industry, alumni or students from your college, or simply with similar interests to you. You will be able to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, and make business contacts.
  • Using the messaging tool to request informal interviews- An effective networking tactic can be to ask Linkedin contacts for job search advice. Set up a brief phone call, or ask to meet for coffee. You never know where the conversation could take you!
Photo from angelaspiteri.co.uk

Photo from angelaspiteri.co.uk

3. Discover Your Twitter Network

Although not as formal as Linkedin, Twitter is still a great place to network, whilst also improving your social media skills. Aside from following people, commenting and retweeting, there are even better ways to get noticed on Twitter (and subsequently make connections). One of the easy ways to network on Twitter is to tweet out to others. When there’s someone that you want to connect with, consider finding something they’ve done recently that you admire or appreciate (for example a helpful article or interesting talk) and tweet it at them. This shows that you are paying attention to others, which in turn will make them interested in you.

Another way to network on Twitter is to write tweets to stimulate conversations. This can be done either by starting your own conversation (for example, ask a thoughtful question) or contribute useful information to an existing conversation. These efforts can help you to get noticed and permeate your personal brand.

4. Make sure to help others

Remember that networking is as much about helping others as it is about others helping you. As you start to make connections, it is important to make them feel like they can reach out to you at any time for help. This can be done simply by including an offer of help at the end of an email (e.g. “If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know…”) This will enable them to better advocate for you throughout your job search.

5. Take every opportunity to meet people face-to-face

Although online networking is useful, face-to-face networking is still the most effective in building relationships. Whether it be an official networking event, an interest group meetup, or having a chat over coffee, there are always opportunities to meet people in person whilst job searching.

Whichever of these tips you decide works best for you, with a little time and commitment you’ll be well on your way to building a strong professional network online.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AMELIA TODD

Photo on 3-10-2014 at 5.29 pm #2 copyI’m an adventurous 20-something Australian who wants to share my passion for writing and interpersonal connection with the world. I graduated from Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia) in February 2014 with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and International Business. Since then, I moved to Boston where I’m currently a student at Startup Institute and I hope to begin my career as a content marketer.
 
Read more about and from the author: Amelia’s WiLab Profile