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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

Avoid the Activity Traps of Social Networking

01 Jul 2011 5:25 PM | Anonymous

By Don Orlando

You’ve heard it often enough: networking is the key to finding a job, and social networking is the key to getting started. You’re on LinkedIn. You’ve joined special groups. You subscribe to the “right” blogs. And you are annoyed every day with notifications that someone has “added” to the discussion. Off you go to see what nugget of vital information you must not miss. And, if you’re like me, nearly three-quarters of the postings are a waste of time--endless “me-too’s,” unsupported opinions, off topic messages, and blatant promotions.

It’s enough to make you throw up your hands in frustration. Don’t. There is a rarely talked about advanced and productive form of networking. It leverages all the “noise” you often encounter. I call it thoughtful contribution. Start by scanning the discussion titles and the names of the contributor. If the title is too broad or vague, don’t follow that thread. But before you do, look at the contributor’s name. Are her comments insightful, well written, and on target? If the answer is yes, be sure to read what she says.

Now you can begin to see the concept of advanced, productive networking. Its goal is to have you seen as a primary influencer—not by the number of postings you make, but by the quality of what you write. If you see a topic of interest, give some thought as to what meaningful contribution you can make. Write as clearly as you can. Support your opinion wherever possible. Won’t that limit your contributions?

Yes ... and it should! I want you to become known as a genuine thought leader. When you do, you’ll find others will reach out to you, offline, to seek your guidance and support. Now you are connecting with people who can really help you. Let’s put you in charge of the impact of social networking tools on your life.

At last, you’ll be free of the nagging guilt that you must scan every single posting on every single subject. Rather, the power of your thought—and writing is thought made visible—will enrich the conversations you’ll have with members of your network. And it’s those conversations that informed hiring decision makers use to offer interviews with confidence.

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