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Facebook, Twitter and More: The New Rules of Social Networking
 

Facebook, Twitter and More: The New Rules of Social Networking

Reporter ,  09-Dec-09

A recent survey indicates that more than a third of Americans are now present on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The social media space has literally transformed itself, with the average profile age on LinkedIn at 40 years, while the same for Twitter is close to 35 years. Facebook’s biggest age group of followers is now in the age group 35 to 54 years, as per data from the site’s management.

This means social media has now come of age, as compared to 2005, when penetration was a mere 8 per cent of the US population and minuscule elsewhere. They now represent a real opportunity to reach out to people on a professional level, and in fact, a number of companies’ HR departments increasingly use the Facebook and LinkedIn profiles of candidates to gauge their suitability in organizational positions. After all, you wouldn’t want the company’s Vice-President of sales being seen in an embarrassing light by future clients, who might take the trouble to find his Facebook page.

 

All this has helped evolve a new set of rules for the social media spectrum, especially for those who are concerned with their professional image. A number of do’s and don’ts now govern acceptable social and professional behaviour on the net, and we’ve tried to put down the most essential ones here.

DO’s:

·         Build a powerful profile on LinkedIn – The site has a strong business only profile and with over 43 million members worldwide, is the best place to start building a professional online presence. Build you career graph, highlight the key success stories and get previous bosses, colleagues, clients and suppliers to recommend your work. LinkedIn profiles are nowadays being increasingly checked by potential employers to determine job fit, and it is usually the first thing to pop up when they google your name.  

·          Use LinkedIn’s Tools to Research Potential Job Opportunities - The site’s database of over 360,000 companies is a great resource to target companies in the particular area you’re looking for, find people who work in those companies, find recent hires and even where the most employees come from.

·         Tweet Your Way to Greater Career Visibility – Many professionals use Twitter to send out useful bits of information about their companies, and expand their visibility online. As a microblogging site which allows you to post messages in 140 characters or less, it is a great way to build a presence without spending too much time in the elaborate creation of a blog.

·         Master the Delicate Art of Using Facebook Effectively – Facebook is a great way to connect with old friends and colleagues, but you need to be able to control what someone might post about you on your wall, lest it turn out to be embarrassing. Facebook is also the home of a number of companies’ home pages or fan sites, where you can find detailed and relevant information about a company, existing employees and recent news, all of which will go a long way in helping you get in there.

And now for the DON’Ts :

·         Don’t be a job-search bore - Never mention a job hunt in an initial note to anyone on a social-networking site. It shows you’re in only for your own need, not with a genuine intention to network. Would you in real life walk into a first meeting with someone and ask about jobs in their company? Yet people manage to make the mistake online.

·         Don’t be too stiff – Your profile should encompass at least a few aspects of your personal life, like your interests and hobbies. This will help others get a better picture of you as a person. But be careful just how much you put out there. Think – “If my future boss sees this would he hire me?”

·         Don’t remain invisible – Make sure you have a professional headshot of you in the profile, and its consistent across various forums so that finding you is easier.

·         Don’t market yourself on anyone’s Facebook page — or even look like you’re trying to - Extremely bad manners. Others’ walls are not your advertising billboards. Respect their space.

·         Don’t goof around – Too many times we get caught up with the inanities on a site like Facebook, where you can spend all day poking others or playing those silly games which are not relevant. If the updates are showing up on your profile page and in your network, it signifies you have more time on your hands than you need, or are distracted too easily.

·         Don’t let your networking end online – Many people chase connections like it was a trophy hunt. If someone has over 3000 contacts on his LinkedIn, how much time do you think he or she can devote to any of those relationships? Spend time solidifying the relationships you feel contribute the most to your professional life. Take things offline by arranging a chat with your contacts, through the phone, through Skype or elsewhere. The closer bond will allow you to help each other when the time comes.

Social networking is all about quickly finding people in every possible niche. Especially the one that matters most to your career: that marvellous niche of folks who might just help you succeed.

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