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Making Social Networking Technology Work for You:
A Recruiter's Perspective
by Maureen Crawford Hentz
Recently a job opening came up in my company for a recruiter. Naturally, I turned to my network to find candidates. Unlike the strategy I would have used a few years ago to access my network, I now turn to social-networking technology.
Social-networking sites abound, and confusion swirls about the appropriateness of using them for business. This article focuses on business-networking sites, such as LinkedIn.
Too often as I give workshops around the country, I hear people say that they've put a profile up on a business networking site and "nothing happened." Putting a profile up is the equivalent of going to a business networking event alone, not wearing a nametag, and standing in the corner by the stuffed mushrooms. Business networking sites are valuable ways to leverage your existing networks and develop new ones. These sites also offer features that allow users to regulate the kind and frequency of contacts obtained, making it easy to "work" your network, but you do actually have to put some work into it.
Here's how to make social networking on a business networking site work for you:
- Take time completing your profile and thinking about who you want to find you.
If you are looking to use a business networking site as a platform for job searching, make
sure that your job history is fully described. Because it takes time to do, many social networkers
simply list the title and current company. Think about the recruiter looking to find you. While
I may be looking for a person with your title, I'm just as likely to be looking for key words.
Describe each of your positions in 100 words or fewer.
- Understand the contact settings on the business networking site.
Each business networking site has contact settings, and they vary. Read the explanations
of the contact settings and make sure that yours are set appropriately. Are you interested in
talking to people who want to get the inside scoop on your company? Want to talk
to salespeople? Want to hear from headhunters? The reason that business networking site
work so well as that these contact settings work as filters. Don't want me to contact you
about a fabulous job at my company? Set your contact settings appropriately.
- Understand keyword loading.
Keyword loading is all the rage, and for good reason. People searching a business networking
site will often search by keywords, and those key words may NOT be those that appear
organically on your profile. Here's an example: as a recruiter, I am always looking for
Power Electronics Designers (in fact, if you are one, call me right now). When I am searching a
business networking site, I will use search terms including "power electronics" but also
"electrical engineer," "MSEE," and "feedback control systems." For all profiles, I recommend
including 35 keywords related to the job you are looking for or the service you seek to provide.
In this way, you maximize the chances that your profile will be returned in a search.
- Decide on your networking style.
Most sites allow unlimited networking, meaning you can connect with as many people as you like.
The social networking community as a whole seems fairly evenly split on sheer numbers of
contacts vs. contacts with people you already know. Some networkers believe that the more
connections they have, the better. Others believe it is important to know every person in their
networks. While it's not necessarily important to immediately decide which social networking
philosophy you ascribe to, you will be presented with this decision fairly regularly.
- Personalize your networking and connecting.
As you reach out to expand your network, take the one or two extra minutes required to
personalize your networking and connecting. Some sites have automated, canned invitations
to connect. Without exception, I delete invitations from anyone who has not bothered to insert
a personalized note into the invitation. Don't have the time to add five or six words to
personalize? Then I don't have the time to answer.
- Mind your manners.
Some sites allow you to solicit and receive endorsements from people in your network.
Small tidbits of recommendation, these help add gravitas to your profile. If asked to
make a recommendation, consider if you know the person well enough and if you
have good things to say. If you don't have good things to say, don't write a mediocre
recommendation. The reason? Your recommendation is shown both on your page
and on the recommendee's page. You don't want your profile to be diluted
with a number of milquetoast recommendations.
Final Thoughts on Social Networking on Business Networking SiteSocial networking on a business networking site is an essential way of doing business. It's a new technology and early adopters are getting the most out of their networks. Get out there, create a profile and get networking; you'll be happy you did!
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Regular QuintZine contributor Maureen Crawford Hentz is manager of talent acquisition, development and compliance for OSRAM SYLVANIA Inc., a Siemens company. She is a nationally recognized expert on social networking and new media recruiting. With more than15 years of experience in the recruiting, consulting and employment areas, her interests include college student recruiting, disabilities in the workplace, business etiquette, and GLBT issues. Crawford Hentz has been quoted by The New York Times, NewsDay, The Boston Globe, and National Public Radio, among others. In addition to her work for QuintZine, she is a contributor to the Boston.com HR blog. She conducts workshops, keynotes and conference sessions nationally. Crawford Hentz holds a master of arts degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, and a bachelor of arts degree in international studies from The American University, Washington, DC. She lives outside Boston, MA.
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