Effective Use of Internet Network Sites
There is a variety of Internet network sites available to keep you in touch both socially and professionally. Professional sites, such as Linkedin and Plaxo, can be helpful in staying in touch with past colleagues. Facebook, a social network site, can also be useful for the same purposes. However, there is a difference between professional and social sites (we'll get to this in a moment).
Networking is about making connections with the right people. Internet network sites offer many benefits but it's wise to be smart with how you use them.
Keeping in TouchThe huge benefit of Internet network sites is being able to stay in touch, or even track down, friends and colleagues. We all have the best intentions, but it doesn’t take long to loose contact with people. With such sites it’s possible to remain in contact even if you aren’t regularly conversing or seeing each other.
Where as in the past, you could easily loose contact if you move jobs or change phone numbers, such sites give you the opportunity to remain in contact regardless of changes in your situation.
Self PromotionProfessional sites allow you to create your own profile, which is very similar to your resume or CV. It gives you a forum to tell others, those you are connected with and typically their connections as well, about yourself – where you work, your skills and your experience.
You can also use your connections (and their connections; think friends of friends!) when you are looking for work. You can send out messages that you are seeking employment and it’s possible someone in your network can help.
Social network sites are also a way to stay in touch. However, the focus is very much social. These sites are generally used by friends who want to share what they have been up to recently. Therefore you might want to think twice as to whether you want to share the same details with your work colleagues.
ReferencesProfessional sites give you the ability to give someone else a reference, and people can also give you references. If you’ve had a great experience working with someone, it’s helpful for them to give them a reference, but don’t simply give someone a reference because they offer to do the same for you.
Think carefully about the people you give references to and the reference that you write. If past colleagues know the person in question and also know that your opinion of them at the time was very different to the reference you gave them, your own integrity will suffer.
Find People Through Your ContactsIt’s always useful to have a recommendation, and if you can find a useful contact through a friend on an Internet network site, it gives you a good start.
Join GroupsWe all like being part of groups that have like-minded individuals, and Internet network sites are a great way to find such groups. Whether grouped by a shared interest, skill, background or location, social and professional sites can help you meet others.
RecruitersIt is not unusual for recruiters to want to link (or connect) with you after you take up contact with them regarding a position. Bear in mind that when you connect with someone they can then see the people you are connected to; which is very useful for a recruiter. So be mindful of connecting with recruiters.
Internet Network Sites are a great way to stay in contact with friends and colleagues. Used professionally they can build up your list of contacts and can be helpful to you both socially and in your career. But be clever with who you connect with (especially recruiters) and only give out references that are genuine.