Most of us use LinkedIn, Facebook and perhaps other social and networking sites. But, did you know that companies and recruiters are increasingly using these too? It’s part of a growing trend. More firms are reaching out to “passive candidates” through social media; so your online presence is valuable to your future career opportunities and endeavors.
The use of “passive talent acquisition” by organizations means you must have a strong online presence and building a broad online network is valuable to your career undertakings. LinkedIn is a gold mine for recruiters and candidates alike. Even if you are not currently looking, others are potentially looking at you. So you cannot ignore your presence online and actively participating on LinkedIn.
Reach out and connect with everyone you know professionally, from friends, colleagues and associates to clients, vendors, suppliers, and others you may have in your list of contacts in your phone and computer. Pay attention to updates and send congratulatory notes when appropriate and other messages that fit the purpose.
Go ahead and connect with a former colleague, classmate or client because social media is still a fairly new communications channel and people are not easily put off by being contacted from an old friend who has come across their profile. Also, it’s important to your career plans to maintain a strong network even if it seems a bit awkward. Consider their viewpoint too. Why wouldn’t they want to connect with you again if you could be valuable to their future opportunities?
Consider sending them a “get back in touch” message that explains how you came across their profile, what you might still have in common, and provide a bit of information about what you’re doing. When they reply with an acceptance, it’s a perfect opportunity to suggest a “let’s get together” or a follow up about your career plans. Keep the dialogue going. Stay in touch and try to be of assistance and of value to them.
Another way to stay connected with others even if you don’t have an immediate need to share is by sharing something with them, such as information they might be interested in or enjoy, or comment on a discussion you’ve seen, or an update they have posted. LinkedIn’s co-founder calls this doing “small goods,” and it’s one of the best uses of the site. And, don’t forget to post updates too so others can stay connected with you. Just make sure to be gracious as appropriate when responding to their reply as well.
It may seem that all of this online networking is time consuming and you have a job and life outside of reading online media. True, but it really doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to stay connected. Keep in touch a couple of times a year. Reach out and send a note.
As long as it touches points that are genuine and sincere you will be maintaining a valuable network of friends. Promotions, new jobs, birthdays and anniversaries are all natural invitations for doing this “small good.” Just be authentic and generous in all of your networking efforts.
It’s not about growing the largest list of connections or giving everyone a weekly update on your job search, it’s about building and maintaining mutually beneficial, long-term relationships that you and your network genuinely appreciate.