By Wayne Gibbins, Partnerships Director at professional social networking firm Viadeo.
Millions of people have professional social network profiles but only a small percentage really know how to use them. At its most fundamental level, the professional social network is seen as a recruitment tool. Recruiters look at professional networks to generate head hunting lists or to try and bypass laborious recruitment processes by finding recommended candidates. But it’s not just about jobs.
Networks also exist to help manage business relationships and to extend the network to new business opportunities and partnerships.
Breaking out of the CV mindset will go a long way to helping businesses flourish online. Unfortunately the CV mindset is fairly entrenched, so giving people tangible reasons to invest time in developing their profile and extending their networks is essential. The strongest pull of course is business. Can social networking actually improve your chances of winning new business?
Yes. There are plenty of examples where this has happened and for that reason alone it is worth investing time in developing a snappy and interesting profile. Social networking is increasingly part of the business sales and marketing mix.
It is not a replacement for more traditional methods but an additional one, one that can open new channels and avenues for business and partnerships that previously did not exist.
So which network? There are of course a number of different networks so it’s important to cover the bases. It’s like advertising on ITV and Channel Four. You are reaching different audiences. Yes there is overlap but there are strengths in all networks.
Viadeo for example gives its members strong links with emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil but also excellent links across Europe.
So to get the most of your professional social network presence we have put together a list of top 10 tips:
1: Attend industry networking events and connect with the people you meet offline, online.
2: Make sure you have a great engaging profile, not just a replica CV
3: Use the network to get introductions to useful contacts
4: Send a personalised message with your connection request - mention where you met and why you think it would be good to stay in touch
5: Have a professional photo on your profile - worth investing in a headshot. Profiles with pics get clicked on 10 times as often.
6: Keep an eye on who has viewed your profile, take note of any recruiters or potential contacts and think about sending them a message or connection request
7: Join groups relevant to your work experience and interest
8: Engage with other users through comments, recommendations and suggestions
9: Integrate your media – use the ability to link various accounts such as Twitter with your social network profile
10: Include your social networking profile address on business cards and email signatures
Good luck and happy networking.
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