Social-Networking Your Way to a New Job
Three steps to connecting with the right people and finding and leveraging the data you need via social networks, such as Twitter and LinkedIn
By Dan Schawbel
Think of the Internet as the 21st century global talent pool. To compete and secure a job, you need to have an online presence, manage it effectively, and cater to your network. Instead of submitting your résumé to job boards, classified ads, and corporate websites, take a different approach. The Internet has created a level playing field where you can connect directly with hiring managers or people who can refer you to new jobs. Instead of actually submitting your résumé to job boards, use job boards to search online for information about companies and positions you’re interested in. The more you can target specific companies, positions, and locations, the more time you’ll save.
Decide on a career path, and then construct an online presence so that hiring managers can locate information about you. Being found online can save you time and energy and get you employed faster. Your online presence should be, at a minimum, a website or a blog under your full name and profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. This way, you will appear where hiring managers are searching for you or for people with your expertise. You will also have more control over how other people perceive you. Your profile information should be consistent: Use the same name, picture, and biographical information across your sites. Once your profiles are flawless, you’re ready to “people search.”
Here is a three-step method for finding your dream job using social networks:
1. Start with a handshake on Twitter.
Twitter is extremely effective for one-to-one networking, because it puts you in a public setting where people feel comfortable. Make sure to fill out your Twitter profile completely, including a custom background and at least 10 tweets with quotes, ideas, and links to relevant articles in your industry. Then proceed to Twellow.com and using keywords, search for employees who work at companies that interest you. Once you locate the top five to 10 people with whom you want to form relationships, follow them, and then add them to a new Twitter list called Job Search.
Spend time each day reading the tweets on your list, commenting on them using a hash tag—the “@” symbol and person’s account name. This way, the people you want to network with will see your name, face, and correspondence. The more you communicate with them, without being annoying, the more they will familiarize themselves with you, and then the relationships start. Eventually you will pique your contacts’ interest enough so they’ll follow you. This will enable you to send them direct messages: private communications between the two of you.
In your direct message, state that you’re interested in further communication through LinkedIn and provide your e-mail address. Chances are that a few of them will respond, and you can now take the relationship to the more professional environment of LinkedIn.
2. Get professional on LinkedIn.
After you connect with strategic contacts on LinkedIn, review their profiles thoroughly until you have a solid understanding of their work experience and their current job responsibilities. Then look through their contact databases so you’re familiar with the people they know at their companies; you can use that information to get introductions later. If a certain contact isn’t in your exact profession, he or she probably knows someone who is or can at least refer you. You can also see open jobs at the contact’s company by conducting searches through LinkedIn. This will make you more knowledgeable when you’re communicating with him or her later.
If this person requested the connection through LinkedIn, send a note explaining you would like to find out more about what he or she does. Depending on your contact’s preference, you may want to communicate with each other via personal e-mail rather than LinkedIn’s internal e-mail system.
3. Take contacts offline.
The whole point of using social networks in your job search is to connect with hiring managers without seeming too intrusive. Once you’ve done that, you need to bring these contacts offline for a phone call or in-person meeting. Networking in real life will always trump the digital world. When you get your new contacts on the phone, ask them about what they do and what the company is like to work at—before sending your résumé.
You have to sound enthusiastic, which should come easily because you’ve been selective about which companies and people to deal with while job searching. Don’t try to overpromote yourself in the first phone call or meeting. Let your résumé speak for your achievements and try to learn as much as possible from them. Remember that social networks can help you get a job as long as you aren’t afraid to connect with strangers and turn online connections into offline relationships.
Dan Schawbel is a personal branding consultant and author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future and the publisher of Personal Branding Blog and Personal Branding Magazine. The New York Times called Schawbel a “personal branding guru.” He is also a speaker and managing partner of Millennial Branding, a branding company that serves individuals and corporations. Recently he was named to Inc. magazine’s 30 Under 30 list.