Social networking is a topic that is on fire these days.  You have Myspace, Linked In, Facebook, Viadeo, Xing, Twitter, and a host of other social networking sites on the web.  The one thing I find is people rush to sign up for these sites then never do anything with them.  People who are traditionally old school and don’t put social networking high on their list are doing themselves a great disservice.

Now, true that old fashioned networking methods will remain forever and not everyone has the time or is cut out for social networking, but it can add a boost to your brand and credibility.  This is 2008, not 1988.  We are a flat world and technology and communications allow us to virtually reach out and touch anyone anywhere.  It only makes sense that we look at social networking in the same way.   I teach sessions on using social networking and I am always pleased to see how amazed some people are by the time they finish the session.  They get to see social networking from the inside out and get a better understanding of how to incorporate it into their branding and development plans.  I do have a slight advantage as a recruiter, but I don’t use social networking merely for the purposes of recruiting.  I build genuine relationships and I keep up with my connections.  That in and of itself has gotten me clients, speaking opportunities and publicity (all unsolicited).

One of the main questions I get asked is what site should a person join.  It is purely subjective.  You have to determine what your end goal is and the type of people you are trying to reach.  Go into each site with an agenda in mind.  If you don’t have a plan, you’ll just be wandering aimlessly.  The next popular questions I get asked are what should I put on my profile and how can I learn how to use *insert site name here*.  Again, it takes time and patience and a little bit of exploration.  Most people come to me because they want an overview from a real person who has experience with the site(s).  I also let them know that they need to be careful about completing their profile.  It shouldn’t read like a resume or CV.  It should give just enough information to give people an idea of your professional self.

Business owners also are slowly turning to social networking.  But for them the rules are slightly different. All of the basics for the career person apply, but they need to incorporate other aspects to get their brand out into the world.  Something as simple as adding video can give potential clients something tangible to work with.  You not only want to showcase your expertise, but SHOW them what you can and have done.  But don’t go overboard with it.  You should not go into social networking thinking it is the magic key to fill up your client load.  Relationship building should be your foundation, always.

Social networking used to be about instant messaging, participating on message boards and sending email.  But it has evolved into viral message, branding and networking through the use of video (You Tube), blogs, message forums, social networking sites, etc.  But remember, these are the TOOLS, a means to get your message out.  It is ultimately up to you to take it to the next level and connect and build relationships with the people you meet.  It takes work just like traditional networking.  It just allows you to move faster and reach more people.

If you have any questions about social networking or are looking for instruction, please feel free to reach out.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham