LinkedIn has firmly established itself as the number 1 online networking resource for job seekers, but has it also created a huge problem for them as well? Successful networking relies on the ability to transform a contact into an impressionable business acquaintance. With studies suggesting 80% of jobs are found through networking it merely highlights it’s overwhelming significance on the job market. However, LinkedIn and other social networking sites alike have changed the landscape of networking completely. Almost all “networking” is now done online, with traditional methods of meeting people and networking events becoming less prevalent. However, this has presented a huge problem. The problem that this has created is not enough professionals are actually utilising these online contacts and forming offline connections. You may have 500+ connections, but without any authentic interaction, you may as well be connected to 500+ spam accounts. Spam accounts might help you be found, but they won’t help you find a job. This has seen professionals become less proactive with their networking skills, rather reactive, only becoming active it when unemployment comes knocking. Like social media, networking should be part of an on-going career management to help keep you in a job. The difficulty with a reactive approach is your job seeking intentions become evident very quickly, rendering the contact uninterested in your problem. Someone whom you have developed a relationship with over time is much more likely to help you than a complete stranger you have just connected with on LinkedIn. That’s the number one rule of networking:
“Always create value before you ask for anything.”
The more value you add before you ask, the harder it will be for someone to tell you no. [Tweet “”Always create value before you ask for anything” – networking tips via @careerintel”] How Can We Utilise LinkedIn for Networking Purposes? Aside from connecting with likeminded professionals, joining groups is a great way to stay updated on key trends and events happening in your industry. Furthermore, participating in group discussions is the most advisable way to then interact and network with your online connections. Just as a precursor, people tend to use group discussions for two ways:
- To increase their visibility. (These are the people that comment for the sake of commenting. Adding no value to the conversation.)
- To network and look to interact with other insightful professionals.
Try to avoid participating/being the person who comments for the sake of commenting. How Can You Network in Group Discussions? First, you need to identify groups whose discussions are interactive. Usually groups that don’t have hundreds of thousands of members tend to be more interactive. Then, read through the discussions and look at what everyone else has written. Instead of writing an independent comment, look to include a response to other peoples comments. Compliment them on their thoughts and elaborate, challenge the notion they presented (in a nice way, no one likes a troll!) and use it as a platform to create value, present yourself as a thought leader. Maybe the people you have mentioned/looked to engage with will respond to your comment, maybe they won’t. If so, look to connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on twitter. How Do You Transform These Online Connections Into Offline Affiliations? This is the most difficult. Attempt to take the discussion further via the private messaging on LinkedIn. Praise their insight and discuss anything else you wish to talk about. This will hopefully enable you to be “remembered.” We then need to continue to provide value. Exemplify your influence with insightful updates, thorough blogs and engaging participation in other discussions, all with the hope to remain on the radar. Keep a look out for their updates as well. Try not to “like” every single one, only when appropriate (you don’t want to be viewed as a stalker). Essentially, try to stay in touch and see if they make an effort as well. If it is a one way street, then maybe you need to back off. If successful, what you will find is that turning this connection into an offline contact will happen naturally, over time. Developing these relationships will become fundamental in helping you stay in a job, or if you find yourself without one, getting back into one quickly. The more you ask for a job, the less you will get, so stay proactive in your networking and job search to avoid a prolonged period of unemployment.