As an executive, your time is valuable and opportunities to pursue personal goals can be limited. However, in today’s social economy, developing, optimizing, and continuously maintaining your social network is critical to your professional reputation, your brand and building your community. Your social network also plays a key role in positioning you for your next career opportunity and demonstrating your ability to deliver key business results.
The people you connect with online should be reflective of those business professionals with whom you share a common interest, business background or who may be able to help you in your job search. When seeking out people to connect with online, be sure to personalize your message by referencing what you have in common. For example, in an invite to connect on LinkedIn, you can mention you attended the same college, shared a previous employer, or participate in a mutual club/organization. One of the most effective strategies for online networking is to mention a shared connection, this gives you instant credibility and can start a conversation. Referencing what you have in common will build instant rapport and motivate the person to connect with you.
There are several strategies you can use to build and control your online presence. Social media outlets provide many opportunities to deliver quick and impactful messages. Personal websites can also provide potential business contacts or employers with a more detailed resource of information on your professional background, speaking engagements, publications, portfolios, and more.
LinkedIn and Twitter deliver a powerful professional reach, as well as a high-impact and effective avenue to convey your message. To maximize these tools, both your LinkedIn and Twitter profile should be public and accessible to all, whether the viewer is a connection or not. If professionals, colleagues, and recruiters search for you on these networks, it’s because they want to gather more information about you. The more information you provide about your background, your values, and interests, the more likely it can lead to initiating contact with you.
Your LinkedIn profile should be optimized and showcase your expert status. Provide a personal summary statement that showcases your accomplishments, as well as your key strengths. Your job history should be complete. Request recommendations that speak to your accomplishments from supervisors and colleagues.
Twitter is also an easy way to reach out to people and showcase your knowledge/thought leadership. Twitter enables you to share, communicate, and connect with colleagues and those that may be able to help you in your job search. People can view your Twitter account to see who you are and what interests you. Actions as simple as a retweet or mention of a company or business leader you respect in a Tweet can signal your interest in connecting.
For both LinkedIn and Twitter, consistent activity and maintenance is key. Share a great article or just post a status update that showcases a great convention you attended, a recent company achievement, a new product release, etc. Whatever information you are sharing, think like a marketer and get creative with the wording you utilize in your post or tweet. This will increase the likelihood your network will remember your name and your expertise when you do need to reach out to them personally.
In addition to LinkedIn and Twitter, you can also develop a personal web page using open source applications such as, WordPress or you can simply use a fully hosted website option such as SquareSpace or WordPress.com. Your website can be a simple bio or can incorporate blogs, links to your tweets, as well as featured articles on you and/or your company. Remember if you do build a site, keywords are critical for search engine optimization and will reinforce your networking goals and professional objectives. You can incorporate your URL into your email signature and/or add it to your business card to pass onto business leaders and colleagues during in-person networking engagements.
In today’s technologically advanced business world, building a strong business network requires a consistent combination of face-to-face and online business networking. Regardless of which online or social media strategy you utilize, the top tip for online business networking is to showcase and consistently reinforce your value and business expertise through updates and information sharing.
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