WHAT IS SOCIAL NETWORKING ABOUT?
In one of my previous articles, Establish Social Media Presence That Is Positive, I briefly discussed the aspect of making sure your social media is positive when job seeking because employers may check it to find out more about who you are. In this article, I would like to take a deeper dive and explain what social networking is about.
According to WhatIs.com, “social networking is the practice of expanding the number of one’s business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals, often through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.” I would like to focus on social networking from a business contacts perspective.
HOW TO EXPAND YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKING CONTACT LISTS
While various social media platforms may be a little different, the one thing remains the same – make sure no matter what platform you use, ensure you always remain professional. You will see me use that word several times throughout this article. It is imperative because your image is at stake if you don’t. It could make the difference of even getting a job as was stated in Establish Social Media Presence That is Positive.
I do not mix personal and business contacts on my social media sites. Because I have a business, I have two sets of social media – one strictly for my business contacts and the other for friends and family. I don’t wish my business clients to be a part of my personal Facebook page that has details that I share with my family and friends. Having said that, I am not suggesting you run out and start separate accounts. I am merely stating what I feel more comfortable doing, personally. What works for me, others may not necessarily agree with, so decide how you want to handle your social media. You may decide that your Instagram is for family and friends, while LinkedIn is for your business contacts. Do what is comfortable for you.
Business Cards – When connecting professionally on your social media, make sure you keep in touch with those who share their business cards with you. You may receive business cards during interviews, dinners, and networking events. When connecting, tell them where you met them. People meet so many others, they may not remember where they met you, so feel free to give them a gentle reminder.
Network Connections – In addition to connecting with those who share their business cards with you, don’t forget about your network that I mentioned in my article “The Importance of Professional Networking“ . You already know a great number of people. Build your list of those people mentioned in the article, seek and connect with them on social media. As you are connecting, ask yourself how they may be able to assist you in your job search or career.
One thing to keep in mind is they may be able to become a mentor after you build a relationship with them. For more information about mentors, read my article “Why Having a Mentor is Important“.
WHAT DOES SOCIAL NETWORKING MEAN FOR YOU?
When you are trying to expand your business contacts, keep etiquette in mind. While your social media outlets for your friends will be casual in language, it is totally different from a business standpoint. You may be connecting with people in hopes of finding a job. Therefore, when you address them in communication, instead of addressing them casually as you would your friend, use a formal tone (i.e. “Hello Mr. Thompson….)” Addressing someone in a formal manner, especially those you don’t know, shows you are respectful. That is the exactly how you want people to view you professionally, especially when seeking employment. There may be times when someone will tell you to address them informally. However, wait until they inform you of that before you do so. It’s best to be cautious.
MORE ABOUT ETIQUETTE
There are several ways to use social media to find employment. One main social networking platform I like to teach students about is LinkedIn. I also teach the etiquette around that particular platform because knowing how to navigate professionally is key – especially when you are job seeking. It is imperative you remain professional because it will make all the difference if someone connects with you or not.
While LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool to use when it comes to connecting with a vast array of people and finding employment, there are several key aspects to keep in mind around this platform:
1. Have a professional profile picture. I don’t mean you have to run out and spend hundreds of dollars at a professional photography studio for a nice picture. It can be a selfie but make sure it is clear and you look professional. It looks very professional for men to wear a nice shirt and tie. It’s even better to wear a nice suit jacket. Ladies, if you wear a nice blouse, that would be professional. If you do decide to take a selfie, it’s best if it’s in front of a plain background.
Remember that your LinkedIn profile is about YOU. Therefore, when you take a picture, make sure you’re the only one in it. Refrain from taking the picture with your cute little kitten or a group of friends.
2. Maintain a professional demeanor at all times. When messaging or posting information, don’t use inappropriate verbiage or talk as if you are communicating with your friends. Remember that this is a professional platform and your actions should come across that way as well.
3. Don’t criticize or comment negatively in groups. It is a good idea to join groups to connect with people. If you do join groups within LinkedIn, be careful how you communicate within the group. Commenting negatively can make an impact on you and your professional image. Therefore, tread lightly on how you post and respond to others.
4. Don’t send messages with, “I see you viewed my profile”. People will look at your profile from time to time for various reasons including for the possibility of employment. The purpose of LinkedIn is for people to view your profile, so don’t be worried if people are reviewing your profile or feel “creeped out” about it. Therefore, don’t send messages to the person indicating you know they were reviewing your profile. That would be very awkward for everyone involved.
5. Don’t treat LinkedIn like a personal account for Facebook, Twitter, other social media or dating sites. The way you communicate on LinkedIn should remain professional and not how you communicate on your other social media. Posting inappropriate pictures, slogans, etc. should never be done.
Many platforms provide a space where pictures of its members can be uploaded. I know of situations where people used the pictures as a mechanism for trying to “hook up” with someone. Please don’t use professional sites as a dating platform! Sending members messages with references to dating is totally inappropriate. I am not saying there is anything at all wrong with on-line dating. However, if that is what you wish to do, use the appropriate platforms for that. Professional social networking is not the time or place for that.
While much of the above etiquette is targeted to LinkedIn, there are parts of it that should be remembered for all your professional social networks. Also remember to keep all your social media positive as employers can review it.
Social networking is very important as you are connecting with others from a business perspective. Make sure as you are connecting, you maintain a professional demeanor at all times. There is also etiquette involved with platforms you should keep in mind. Maintaining a professional air will take you a long way when it comes to connecting with others in the business world.
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