Route 66 - The Journey Toward Success
Keep Your On-line Profiles Up To Date
Many people who support the whole concept of networking are still slow to embrace the social on-line networking tools that have become so popular. One would have to be living under a rock to not have heard about LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.... However, while those who are active users of these tools may not realize this (and be shocked to hear it), most people are not actively on board with using these popular sites.
The most common questions I get from people when I speak about networking are questions about how to use on-line social networking as part of a business strategy. Often these questions come from very seasoned networkers who have spent years creating and cultivating strong relationships with others. However, they have not yet adopted an internet strategy.
While I am not suggesting that everyone should or would become active users of these online tools, I do believe everyone should have an up to date on-line presence. It is free and takes very little time to create accounts on one or more of the social networking sights.
(Note, people often ask why it is called "social networking" when I am telling them that these are business tools. The term was adopted years ago to distinguish the difference between computer networking, ie: what you IT Manager does with your computers at work, and networking between humans where you build a mutually beneficial relationship that can lead to opportunities).
The reason to have a profile on LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, etc... is not only so you can utilize these sites for your networking, but also so that you can be found by others. At the bare minimum you should have an account on LinkedIn. This sight is focused on business professionals and is heavily used by recruiters and others who might seek you out to provide you with opportunities. If you do not have a profile, you will be passed over.
Some will say "but I am not looking for a job, so why do I care if a recruiter can find me?" Gosh, do you mean you would never want to hear about a job in your town or industry that you would be qualified that might pay you 25% more than you earn now? Good for you! But most people would want to hear about exciting opportunities, even if they have no plans of moving. That makes the decision YOUR CHOICE! Additionally, many other business professionals use LinkedIn to research vendors and others with whom they do business. No profile and your prospect might feel they know more about your competitor. Alas, people do business with people they know and like.....you have to give them the chance to get to know you using the tools of their choice. I recently had a person tell me he always researches the history of people on LinkedIn before doing business with them. When folks do not have a profile it does not disqualify them, but he looks at them as out of touch.
Once you have created a profile, go back from time to time and make sure it is up to date. If you have changed jobs, be sure to have your contact information current.
Another good idea is to search for your co-workers, friends and competitors and see how they describe themselves on their profiles. This will give you ideas about what to say and how to position yourself via this on-line venue.
You will also need to establish a linking strategy. Some folks go hog-wild and try to collect digital links to everyone they can. Others only accept links to people they actually know in person. It is your choice, but I suggest that you only link to those whom you know. Too many links to strangers can weaken the credibility of your network on the site.
Whatever you do, do not fall into the camp that is unaware of the on-line social networking communities and who actively avoid being involved. The future is here, and believe it or not, the internet is not a fad. You need to be present.
Have A Great Day.