I started off by introducing some of the newer ways employers are using social networks in my first post, Social Networks and Your Job Search (Part 1). In my next post, Social Networks and Your Job Search (Part 2), I gave you some tips on what you can do with your profiles and networks to get connected. In this post, I’ll tell you how and where to connect and engage with potential employers.
It all boils down to three steps: follow, engage, connect. And they’re done a little differently depending on what network you are on. Allow me to demonstrate…
The Obvious Choice: LinkedIn
LinkedIn* is hailed as the professional networking site, and with good reason. Whether you are job hunting or not, keep your LinkedIn profile updated and use it to connect with anyone and everyone you come across during your career.
- Follow: Companies have their own profile pages on LinkedIn where you can “follow” them to get the latest news and updates. (Example: this is the Intel page.) Company pages give you an overview of what’s happening, connections you have to the company and career opportunities. Whether you’re interested in hearing about the latest and greatest from a brand that you’re a fan of or you’ve picked an ideal employer and are simply waiting for the right opportunity, following a company page is the first step. If you can’t find a company page, search for groups associated with a specific employer. Proceed with caution though, there are some groups that aren’t “officially sanctioned” by the company but it’s pretty easy to figure that out once you poke around.
- Engage: If someone came up to you and said something, would you just walk away from them? Usually someone says something to you to start a conversation. The same applies to discussions or status updates. They’re there for you! Whether you like it or not, if you have something to say or ask, do so! That’s the beauty of social media: it gives everyone a chance to engage. Most companies also have their moderation policies listed so you know what to expect.
- Connect: Did you get into a really good discussion with an employee? Find a recruiter who encourages people to connect with him or her? LinkedIn profiles have a section called “Contact <NAME> for:” where the user will list all the reasons they are open to connecting with people for. Read the profile, decide if your request fits one of the reasons they are open to, and send (or don’t send) an invite. If you do send an invite and you don’t know the person too well, it’s a good idea to include a message introducing yourself and why you’d like to keep in touch. If the person declines your invitation, there’s a reason for that–let it be and move on.
The Not-So-Obvious Choice: Facebook
I know, Facebook* is for your friends. But really, if you’re comfortable with it (and use your settings appropriately), it can be used to connect with any and everyone.
- Follow: Like LinkedIn, companies have their own pages on Facebook called fan pages. These pages are similar to a personal profile, giving companies a chance to behave just as a normal user would. While on LinkedIn companies have one page, many companies have several presences on Facebook. Pages can be divided by location or by their business. For example, some companies have their own Careers or Jobs page–which is what you would want to follow as a job seeker. (Are you following our Jobs at Intel Facebook page?)By following their page, you get updates to your newsfeed on the latest news about the company, be it cultural or products or even jobs!
- Engage: Comment on status updates. Share news with your network. Write wall posts. These are all ways to engage with a company. In the past, the only way to have direct access to a company was through meeting representatives at career fairs or only available to the elite group that moved forward in the recruiting process. Social networks level the playing field and allow anyone a chance to ask questions and get in touch. However, depending on the volume, you may or may not get a response. When you do ask a question or make a comment, make it as easy to understand the first time around so you can get a response after it’s read. If you’re not clear about your question and/or the recruiter/moderator needs to ask follow-up questions to even get you an answer, you might miss your chance to engage.
- Connect: Let’s say you get into a conversation with a recruiter on Facebook, do you friend them? What I’ve heard is that most people DO NOT want to connect with a recruiter on Facebook because they have a lot of personal information and photos that they’d prefer those outside of their social circles not see. Completely understandable–but either 1) don’t post those pictures online for people to see or 2) use your security settings! It’s ultimately up to you on whether you want to befriend a recruiter on Facebook or not. I would recommend doing so, after changing your security settings. It’s an easy way to keep in touch, most recruiters have better things to do than ‘stalk’ your profile, and it gives you more access to the recruiter so you can be comfortable asking questions, getting information, and developing a relationship.
Somewhere in the middle: Twitter
- Follow: Following strangers is completely acceptable on Twitter*. In fact, it’s encouraged. It’s a little like a domino effect–you find someone interesting to follow, and then you look at who they follow and you find more interesting people to follow, and then you look at whothey follow and you find more interesting people to follow… and so on and so forth. Twitter lists are really helpful for this as well. I, myself, am guilty of not being as organized as to group the people I follow into lists (sometimes I think I need to dedicate an entire day to just get my social networking lists in order!), but there are more organized people out there who have created lists. These lists help you find a cluster of people who would be interesting at once. And the best part? If you don’t think they’re being helpful, you can easily unfollow them.
- Engage: The RT button and @ button are pretty powerful on Twitter. In fact, as a rule of thumb, for every tweet you send about yourself, you should RT or @ 7 other people. (I’ve heard 10, I’ve heard 5, I’ve heard 3…I’m going with 7 as a happy medium!) Now don’t be offended if you don’t get a response back, but being out there and spreading the love–it’ll come back to you. Just watch.
- Connect: Over time you’ll develop relationships with your Twitter fam–and when the time is right, it’s appropriate to ask them for help with an introduction to someone who can help with your job search, or maybe asking them to take a look at your resume or pass it along, or even a tweet-up (meet up) for coffee or an informational interview. Also, take a look at business cards you’re collecting–are Twitter handles listed? That’s an invitation to follow and engage. There’s a fine line between complimentary and creepy though–tread carefully.