The Best Online Tools for Executives
The latest online products let you network like never before – and they’re easy to use.
By Dean Guadagni and Susan Hanshaw
There is no denying it: The new online communications capabilities dubbed “Web 2.0” are changing the way companies interact with customers, conduct business and leverage their brands on a global basis. The social-networking capabilities Web 2.0 introduced have fundamentally altered the way companies search for talent.
Yet many executive job seekers hesitate to adopt Web 2.0 and social- media strategies because they lack information about the tools, their reach, their value and how best to use them.
Today we’ll shine a light on what works for $100K+ executives.
The following is a brief look at what we believe to be the most important tools available to executive job seekers today and a few tips on how to best put them to use.
LinkedIn is a tremendously popular social network for business users. With more than 40 million registered users, LinkedIn was ranked one of the top five social- media sites for traffic growth in Q1 of 2009 by Compete.com. (How much traffic puts a site in the top five? Analytics firm comScore.com estimates Linkedin receives 16 million unique visits per month.)
LinkedIn is based on an architecture of visibility. Simply stated, LinkedIn allows you to see your networking partners’ network of connections. This visibility creates a number of opportunities for job searches via an extended network focused on business.
- Tip: Use the “Status Update” box.
One of the biggest and most common mistakes LinkedIn users make is doing nothing more than collecting connections. Among the quickest and most effective tools for networking with your direct connections is the Network Updates box, a.k.a “What are you working on now?” These messages get distributed to your direct connections as updates on their home pages, enabling you to keep yourself top of mind with your connections.
Blogging is a multi faceted toolfor your executive job search. The term “blog” is a contraction of the words “Web” and “log.” In a nutshell, blogs are easy-to-use Web sites that display articles in reverse-chronological order. Because they’re such an accessible, powerful way to get your message out, blogs provide job seekers with extremely effective digital calling cards.
You can build and own your writing platform, publish content that reflects your expertise and create a communications tool that will support you throughout your career.
Unlike social networks, which are owned by others and require you to follow their rules of engagement, bloggers have the opportunity to create their own “publications,” write their own rulebooks and establish their own formats with their target markets and goals as parameters.
- Tip: Just start.
The first and simplest tip is to adopt blogging as an important tool and step into the technology.
Twitter is a social network that lets users publish short messages with a limit of 140 character s. Although Twitter’s registered user count, rumored at 10 million, is far below that of Facebook’s purported 200 million -plus, Twitter is the fastest- growing social network according to Compete.com. From March 2008 to March 2009, Twitter grew 2,565 percent.
Twitter has enjoyed amazing growth and popularity for two reasons. First, it is an easy tool to use. Twitter requires very little technical savvy, and it requires you to do far less writing than a blog would.
Second, Twitter provides valuable features like instantaneous broadcasting and connectivity. This makes Twitter a major component of any social- media campaign.
- Tip: Tune into conversations.
To hear what’s going on in any conversation hosted on the site, just make a list of keywords that would identify topics you’re interested in. Twitter is behind the growing popularity of the new search frontier: “semantic conversational search.” Semantic search lets people search for conversations, in real time, relevant to their keywords. Unlike a Google search, which can return links to outdated information, Twitter has a third- party, open- source search tool called Twazzup.com, which identifies relevant conversations.
Facebook currently reigns as the largest social network with more than 200 million active users. Facebook reports that 100 million users spend more than 4 billion minutes on the site every day. Today’s fastest- growing population segment is age 35 and older ; that group’s spending power is attracting businesses of all sizes to develop a Facebook presence.
- Tip: Control your privacy settings.
Many executive job seekers are concerned about how to draw a line between personal and professional networking, especially with networks like Facebook that may encompass both sorts of contacts. Most people don’t realize how much control they have over who sees what. In fact, Facebook provides settings that let you select who can see the various sections of your profile and your update activity.
What’s important is that you’re comfortable using whatever tools work for you. This debriefing on Web 2.0 tools is a start, but you’ll have to take the plunge to get the hang of it. Use this information to build an online job -search campaign around your offline search today.
Dean Guadagni and Susan Hanshaw are co-founders of Inner Architect, a social- media marketing firm that works with businesses and individuals to use Web 2.0 and social-media tools to get close to their customers, engage with their target audience, and succeed in building a vibrant community or professional network. They are frequent public speakers, addressing professional groups around the San Francisco Bay area about the impact and opportunities of Web 2.0.