I am currently in Chicago, attending the AAAS annual meeting. While I will be presenting a talk tomorrow morning (special prize to anyone who attends that talk and tells me they read this), I arrived early so I could check out some of the other sessions.
The one I attended today was entitled “Beyond the Resume: How To Network and Market Yourself to Enhance Your Career”. The first half focused on traditional topics that I’ve covered many times in this blog.
The second half, however, moved on to talk about networking – both traditional networking and new electronic methods. Most of their tips were right on, so I thought I’d share them here.
First and foremost, remember that your network requires giving, not just taking. Ideally you will give before you need to take, but many people don’t do that. So, the least you can do is remember to thank people for the help they give you, keep them apprised of your progress, and maintain contact in the long term – hopefully because you are on the lookout for ways to return the favor, and not because you never know when you are going to need them again.
LinkedIn is a great tool, and it is becoming a necessity, not a luxury, for all professionals. However, LinkedIn works best when you use it actively. Solicit recommendations, and write recommendations for others. Seek out people, make real connections with them, then connect on LinkedIn. Finally, keep in touch with the people you connect to. Drop them a line and see how they’re doing, and what’s new with them.
Twitter is growing in popularity, as evidenced by the increasing number of mentions in the popular press. While it’s not sure how this tool is going to work out, right now one of the best things you can do is find out what it’s all about. Set up an account, and follow the thought leaders in your industry. Most of the tweets now (depending on who you follow, of course) are pointers to hot, interesting news articles. One more way to keep up on what’s going on in your industry and field.
Finally, Facebook. While this purely social network is not really used for business, many employers do search it before bringing a candidate in for an interview. Also, many people now have family, friends, and business colleagues as “friends” on these social networking sites. Therefore, the best plan is to not post anything that would bother you if it showed up on the front page of the New York Times. Failing that, you can set up “groups” for your friends, and only let certain groups see certain things.