We've all heard the old phrase, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Of course, this is only partially true. In order to get a great job, you need to be well-qualified and able to present yourself in a professional manner, but sometimes the hardest part is getting your foot in the door. That's where social networking comes in.
There are two main types of social networks, real world and online. Both can be valuable sources of contacts in the job market. Here are a few tips for finding employment through social networking:
Real World Networking
- Be vocal. Let friends and relatives know that you are looking for work. You cannot expect people to read your mind, so speak up!
- Take the initiative. Even when people know that you are hoping to find a new job, they aren't always comfortable stepping in unless asked, so ask. Remember though, not everyone likes to get involved, so if someone turns you down, be polite and try not to take it personally.
- Help others. People will be more inclined to look out for you if you have been there for them. Whenever you can lend a hand, do so.
- Get involved. The more people you know, the better your chances of making helpful connections. Opportunities are all around you. Your family members and current friends are rich sources of employment referrals, of course, but try to actively seek out other connections. Get to know the people on your block, at your church, at your children's school and extracurricular activities, and let them know that you are job hunting.
- Be a "doer." Organize a block party or community barbecue. Volunteer your time for your favorite political candidate. Sign up for a bowling league. Join the alumni association of your alma mater. The specifics matter less than the fact that with every activity that you engage in, you meet more people.
- Approach people. Extend your hand, smile and introduce yourself. Many people are shy, so you must take the first step and start a conversation. Talk to people that you encounter during your everyday routine--shopkeepers, your mail carrier, the kid behind the counter at Starbucks and the wait-staff at your favorite restaurant. Every chance to establish a friendly rapport with someone is an opportunity. Don't waste it!
- Take a class. Take a class, preferably one that pertains to your chosen field of employment, and make the time to participate in a study group. Not only will you meet new people with similar interests, but taking job-related classes will boost your resume!
- Online social networks. Online social networks are widespread and are constantly growing in popularity. Blogs, message boards and chat rooms are offered through many internet providers, and no matter your interests, there is most certainly one (or better yet, several!) for you.
- Start a search. Go to your favorite search engine's main page and type in the name of your alma mater, favorite football team or desired job. From there you will be linked to a wide variety of sites, many of which offer an interactive aspect. If there is a message board, sign up and introduce yourself.
- Remember, it's not all about you. As with any new friendship, there has to be a little give and take. Express a genuine interest in the messages that other people post, and take the time to offer a considerate response. Before you know it, you will have formed a number of new relationships!
- Meet a variety of people. Much like in the real world, it is important to meet a wide variety of people. Sign up with several message boards or blogging sites and make a point to be an active member of each.
- Online classes count, too. A number of online universities offer classes, and your local community college may even have a few internet options as well. Although you won't get as much social exposure enrolling in an online course as you would in a brick and mortar school, you still get the opportunity to interact with your instructors and study group.
- Spread the word. Once you have established an online network of contacts, be sure to share the fact that you are looking for work, and offer your assistance to others.
- Value your new contacts. Don't underestimate the value of these online friendships. In today's busy world, many people are more likely to spend time online in short "visits" than they are with real, live people!