Network your way to the top

By at home

Social media isn’t just for showing off your holiday pics, you can use it to land your perfect role, too…
Job seeking used to involve scouring newspaper ads, or getting on the books of a few recruitment agencies. Now, most people head online. With a few clicks you can upload a virtual CV to be seen by thousands of potential bosses, or search for the latest jobs and apply direct. Email alerts even mean that technically you can be job-hunting while you sleep. But some of the best tools if you’re looking for work now are social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Use them properly and you can connect, engage and build relationships with all sorts of people – including those who might hire you in the future, or know someone who’s hiring. These days, even recruiters themselves are using them to hunt for new members of staff. Social networking is completely free, and all you need is internet access and a little bit of know-how…

Sociable women
If you’re a mum looking to ease yourself back into the workforce after having kids, social networking could be a fantastic tool. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook are giving many women access to a whole new group of like-minded people – to swap tips, contacts and mutual support. ‘Mummy blogging’, blogs in which mums write about their family lives, and ‘Mumpreneurs’, mums who’ve gone into business, usually with baby-based products and services, are both recent phenomenons mostly due to social networking. Even for those without a blog or business, social networking is a handy way to reconnect with pre-baby colleagues in the hope of finding work, or meet others and go on to form valuable face-to-face connections with.

Easy networking
Supposedly, British people aren’t the best networkers around. We’re not naturally good at putting ourselves forward or brashly bigging up our work achievements. That’s why social networking is a gift for the more reserved among us. But while it can be incredibly helpful, the best strategy is to use it to make some valuable face-to-face contacts, too.

Bear in mind your personal brand
More and more employers are using search engines or sites like Facebook and Twitter as a secret separate stage of their interview process. Put yourself in their shoes. Given the choice, who would you choose to work for you? A candidate who presents a positive, responsible version of themselves online, or someone who posts hundreds of dubious personal photos and dodgy status updates on Facebook? The trick is to think about your personal brand. With all social networking, make sure you’re building trust and credibility. Besides, you ca n still upload fun photos and silly comments, but just set your privacy settings so only trusted friends can enjoy them.

I’ve written my profile. Now what?
Don’t just sit back. For social networking to really work for you, it’s vital to keep at it consistently. Best results come from active use – set yourself daily targets of engaging with a certain amount of relevant new people on Twitter, making pertinent comments on Facebook or adding some useful remarks to a LinkedIn group.


Four of the best social networking sites

www.TWITTER.COM
Get tweeting to find job opportunities

Twitter’s a microblogging site, which means you send and read messages, or tweets, of up to 140 characters. Following people who are relevant or interesting to you means you can see their tweets. For job seekers, that means following people who run or work for companies you’d like to be part of, or others in your industry. People don’t need to be following you for you to comment on their tweets, as they’ll read what you say if you use @ before their name. So make sure your comment is relevant and useful. Your bio can be up to 160 characters long, so use it wisely. Include info on the type of work you’re looking for. See support.twitter.com

www.LINKEDIN.COM
Make use of your industry contacts

Most people use LinkedIn to reconnect with colleagues from previous jobs. It’s based on the theory that one of the best assets you can have is a trusted network of contacts. You build your network by asking people you’ve worked with to connect with you. Then you can ask them to introduce and recommend you to others. Comments from people who rate you professionally can be invaluable. Help your contacts in return, recommend them back, and use your status updates to pass on any opportunities you’ve heard about. Just like Facebook, joining a specific group is a way to get your name out there. See learn.linkedin.com

www.FACEBOOK.COM
Sign up and create your profile

What started out as a way to keep in touch with friends and family has now turned into an essential business tool for thousands of companies. Every big-name firm (and now many smaller ones) has a Facebook page with info, videos and photos on what they’re up to. If you read something on a company’s wall you can add to, click ‘like’ to be able to comment and start getting yourself known. Facebook also has groups you can join to network with people with similar interests and skills. Your friends may be another handy resource. Post a status saying you’re looking for your next role and ask people to keep an eye out. See www.facebook.com/help

www.YOUTUBE.COM

Upload a video and get noticed

Want to marvel at Susan Boyle’s first TV performance? Or giggle at laughing babies? YouTube’s still the place for kooky must-see clips, but it’s also now a handy business tool. You can check out companies’ YouTube channels to get a behind-the-scenes peek at what it’s like to work there, or create your own channel to get the edge. Think how effective a simple, short video clip of you speaking directly to camera on your skills and work experience could be. To make yourself even more visible, add a link to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or blog, and mention it in your status updates. See www.google.com/support/youtube

A word from James
‘Digital media continues to revolutionise the way we do business. It can bring huge benefits to small businesses, from building brand awareness and engaging with customers to simply driving sales.’


Pictures: getty images

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