“Networking” can be a broad and scary term. There is a misconception that this tactic of forming and maintaining relationships is only significant when it’s with top executives at one’s dream company. Mingling with a corporation’s VIPs is a great way to foster future opportunities, but in this age of technology, it is not the only way. Using technology, specifically internet platforms like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, Facebook and Twitter to your advantage, will increase one’s chances of finding job opportunities and communities of like-minded people. Nowadays, one’s online presence can be just as important as how one presents in person. As a result, it has become increasingly vital to use internet platforms constructively.
In many cases, when employers are looking to hire, one way in which they decipher between candidates is by searching their online presence. One platform that is important to have (if you don’t already have an account), is a LinkedIn page. The simplest way to describe LinkedIn is professional Facebook. The two platforms work very similarly, so if you know how to work Facebook (which is almost everyone), you will easily learn how to navigate LinkedIn.
With over 675 million users, LinkedIn connects students, entry level professionals, hiring corporations, entrepreneurs and company executives to one another. One of this platform’s most helpful tools is it’s “Jobs” tab, where anyone is able to do a search for, save, create alert notifications on, and post employment opportunities. The same way in which users are able to add friends on Facebook, LinkedIn allows its users to grow their network by making connections.
It’s important to use your profile like an online resume, detailing all of your skills and prior experience. Also, in the same way people post fun things going on in their lives on Facebook, feel free to post what’s new in your professional life. Maybe you just started an internship, read an interesting article, attended an engineering convention, or maybe you met Bill Gates? Content including, but not limited to these things are all helpful to post. Employers want to know more about who you are from your page, so they have a better idea if they want to hire you or not. Show them what’s special about you!
Another way to increase the number of eyes that come across your resume, is to make an account on job finder websites. Some trusted sites include Glassdoor and Indeed. These online resources exist specifically to help people learn about job opportunities. On both Glassdoor and Indeed, one can find positions from grocery store cashier, to CEO, to temporary volunteer for NY Fashion Week. Not only can you filter jobs based on location, experience level, and title, you can also sign up to get notification emails when your desired job has begun accepting applications. Both platforms allow one to create a profile (or upload their LinkedIn profile) and add their resume and a cover letter in order to make the job application process that much more quick and convenient.
On all of your online platforms, including your email address, be sure to choose usernames that reflect you in the most professional light. For instance, using some variation or combination of your first and last name is more effective than using “firstname.lastname@example.org.” Our goals are clarity and ease of access. Employers more likely than not, have many candidates they are looking through, and will not hesitate to pass your application if searching for more information about you is hard to find, or appears unfocused and unprofessional. This rule of professionalism also goes for profile pictures and cover photos; try to find photos that exhibit you at your absolute best.
Besides finding job opportunities, another fruitful benefit of social media networking is participating in and creating online communities. These groups foster discussion about relevant topics, make comforting jokes together, vent, and share advice. One online community that can be found on Twitter is @WritersofColor. The account posts countless opportunities that will help aspiring and established writers of color become that much more experienced. One Facebook group that is considered an online community is the “Black Undergraduate Theater Collective.” This group not only posts job opportunities, but they also share scripts, give audition tips, and discuss films. These are just two of countless online communities that are waiting for your wisdom and contribution.
Successful networking is not only done in person. Networking online can bring one opportunities faster than forming relationships in person based on the increased level of exposure. Sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, Facebook and Twitter can display someone’s work experience and personal values (with impressive visuals) to a mass pool of people and perspective employers potentially faster than one face-to-face meeting could. Online groups allow people with like interests, talents, and culture to collaborate, share ideas and get inspired. You never know if who you meet electronically could help you create something or give you an opportunity in the future. Happy networking!