8 Steps to Leverage Social Networks

The following eight steps helped job seeker ‘Paul’ put his online social networking into its proper place.

Recently a colleague suggested I help an executive job seeker who was having trouble making sense of the online social networks he thought were supposed to support his job search. Let me call this person “Paul.”

Paul came to me with no less than 50 pages of contacts, resume material and logs from his multi-month job search online and offline. As he recounted the hours he’d spent networking, sending resumes, posting to blogs and using social-media channels, I realized that his unfocused activity had been counterproductive.

The following eight steps helped Paul put his online social networking into its proper place:

  1. Focus on outstanding content, not simply exposure. Paul developed comments on blogs and short articles for two industry-specific publications where he could grow his authentic brand.
  2. Decide in advance what you want to accomplish with social networks. He stopped “chatting” with people about myriad issues and developed a business plan for his search and professional conduct.
  3. How you behave online is how you will behave in person. He stopped the one-way conversations (via opinions added to Comments pages) and started interacting with key professionals in his field on a number of niche channels, groups on LinkedIn and more.
  4. A weak online profile equals a weak executive. Paul had his resume professionally reworked, then refined it to fit his LinkedIn profile and used various versions to populate other channels where people could read his bio.
  5. Your online profile must match the media. He created two one-minute, industry-focused videos that demonstrated his activity in the industry and added them to his YouTube channel.
  6. Keywords, bio and resume must create a compelling brand focused on a productive purpose. Paul engineered his bio to attract third-party recruiters and began communicating with third-party and corporate recruiters he met through Ladders Follow Me feature and via other professional introductions. He was also found by recruiters who were hunting for keywords, phrases and other digital insight that let them know he may be an excellent placement candidate.
  7. Concentrate on one or just a few social networking opportunities… leave the others behind. He simplified his social-media interactions on eight different channels and focused on a few industry channels that helped him broadcast his value proposition vs. his needs; in fact, he quit 10 “job-seeker” groups on LinkedIn in favor of industry- and association-focused groups within his profession and started interacting with top peers in his field.
  8. Social networks may require a new degree of transparency and originality — he stopped trying to sell his skills and just enhanced his professional connections and brand.