Networking has always been a key part of the job search process. It’s often not what you know but who you know that lands you a job. Your network can be a valuable source in hearing about jobs that aren’t yet posted, making connections to hiring managers or employers of interest or providing a reference.
Today, networking becomes even more instant with the Internet and the various resources available at your fingertips. I’ve always been a huge advocate of young professionals – both internship and entry-level job candidates – taking advantage of what Twitter has to offer.
Twitter is a great resource for meeting industry professionals and leaders, discovering helpful blogs and resources and keeping up on the latest news. In order for young professionals to make the most out of Twitter, they should follow these steps:
- Join. Choose a professional username that coincides with other usernames on your blog, LinkedIn, etc. Choose a headshot for your picture and fill out your bio in an interesting and informative way.
- Follow industry leaders and network connections. You should start following industry leaders and professionals, thought leaders, companies of interest and people you already have connections with. (Hint: a good way to find people in your industry are to look for public lists pertaining to your field.)
- Listen. Read tweets, check out blog posts and news articles shared by your connections, and notice which hashtags (anything following a hash sign, #) you should be following.
- Interact. Retweet (RT) interesting or unique articles, start a conversation with someone interesting or mention someone by using the @ symbol followed by their username. Join Twitter chats for your industry and interests—another great way to discover professionals and build your network.
- Strategize. Decide what you’d like to share on your Twitter account – your blog posts, inspirational quotes, pictures, personal experiences, news, or a combination of all? Also, decide on how many times you’re going to tweet each day and try to be consistent.
- Share. Do you write for your own blog? Read up on industry news each day? Share your content and news with your followers. (Hint: use a service like TweetDeck or HootSuite to manage your account and shorten links quickly.)
- Take relationships offline. Meet someone on Twitter that will be at a conference you’re attending? Take time out of your schedule to meet up with them in person to strengthen the relationship you’ve already built online. Interested in talking with a local connection about business opportunities outside of the Twittersphere? Meet up for lunch one day to discuss. There are many opportunities to build upon relationships that start online.
A few words of wisdom:
- Networking shouldn’t be about the numbers. Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships—so don’t base your goals on quantity, but quality.
- If you’re unsure how to participate in a Twitter chat or use a hashtag, spend some time watching and listening before diving in.
- Want to read the latest tweets about a certain industry, organization or subject? Instead of (or in conjunction with) following hashtags, you can also create a column in TweetDeck or HootSuite with a search term or phrase and follow what’s being said.