The evolution of social media has not only revolutionized the way we communicate, but also how we approach difficult tasks, like finding a new job by offering tools for job searchers to break into new roles.
For young professionals, networking has long been one of the most effective methods of finding job opportunities and making connections in a particular industry. Today, such networking is exponentially easier through social media. While finding connections in traditional ways such as meetings, conventions, mutual friends, and other social events is still crucial, social media can play an important role in networking.
Social media offers a way to facilitate forming and strengthening relationships. Social stigma over meeting people on the Internet is a thing of the past; these days, it’s almost even encouraged as a way of broadening your network, especially in the startup community.
Professionals are rarely anonymous on Twitter, and many are happy to meet more members of their field. Many relationships are built via mutual connections; check out whom your current connections reply to and retweet and see if you would be interested in talking to that person too. If you see an interesting article online or read a good book related to your field, search for the author and/or any sources mentioned in the text to see if they’re active on Twitter. They may prove to be worthwhile connections.
While Twitter is an excellent resource for such connections, LinkedIn has been established as a platform specifically aimed at professional networking. No one is anonymous on LinkedIn; you are there as a professional displaying your current job, work experience, and skills relevant to your field. LinkedIn forms connections in terms of degrees: you are directly associated with your first-degree connections, their connections are your second degree, and in turn, their connections are your third degree. It’s the traditional idea of networking via your friends’ friends, now online.
If you find someone you’re interested in talking to on LinkedIn, make sure to include a note on your connection invitation explaining why you’re connecting with him or her, especially if it’s someone you’ve never had contact with before. Don’t be offended if they say no; many users are reluctant to connect to strangers on LinkedIn because they prefer to keep it more personal and professional. You can still search for their Twitter or personal blog to build a relationship. In some cases, you may want to connect to someone simply to have access to their connections. If this is the case, be honest; there’s no shame in sending them a note saying you’d be interested in gaining access to more potential connections in your field.
When you find these potential connections online, make sure to be honest and be yourself. The anonymity of the Internet may allow you to be whomever you’d like, but that won’t help you in the real world. These people may one day be your coworkers, friends, or even your employers, so start your relationship off right with honesty. Reply to their tweets if you have something interesting to add to a conversation, and retweet anything you find important; even better, add a few words of your own thoughts to any retweet. This is especially helpful if you’re a student entering into the field, as many current professionals are happy to help a newcomer, especially if they are alum of your school.
Startup Institute offers crucial connections in the startup community in addition to training for the skills you need to get your dream job. Spots are still open for our summer session in Boston, Chicago, and New York City starting on June 23rd. Check out our website for more information.
Post by Dylan Manley, Content Marketing Associate at Startup Institute Boston. Find him on Twitter at @dcm510