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Networking no longer begins and ends with career fairs and employer information nights. Online social networking has become a necessary strategy to help you establish valuable connections in the business world. We are not talking about informal updates regarding your social activities with friends such as on Twitter or Facebook. When executed correctly, social networking presents you as a qualified candidate with an advantage over your competitors.
LinkedIn is the recommended online database that serves as a business-oriented social networking site and boasts more than 85 million users. This network provides a united platform from which to link to companies, executives, alumni and peers. The main purpose of your LinkedIn profile is to build a highly informative and professional online presence.
- Think as a professional. Every word, setting and message should be treated as a strategy that builds your reputation.
- Learn about proper usage of LinkedIn before going live with your profile.
- Construct your profile in a manner similar to your résumé; however, on LinkedIn there is no need to worry about length providing your writing is tight.
- Fully detail your experience, education, technical skills, community involvement and any other pertinent information.
- Include recommendations (one for every position listed). Recommendations are positive statements that others make about you, and are generated through requests you send to your connections. Each recommendation corresponds with a job title.
- Include a simple professional photo of yourself, preferably a head shot.
- Complete your profile 100 percent instead of leaving areas blank.
- Customize your settings for career opportunities. LinkedIn will send job alerts based on your selections.
- Connect to your career resource center and/or alumni association as a start.
- Update your profile on a consistent basis to convey your new accomplishments.
- Keep summary paragraphs between 100 and 300 words.
- Customize your URL.
- Visit LinkedIn often.
Facebook has exploded in popularity and is mainly used for socializing with friends or for joining groups to stay updated on issues and events. When you begin a job or internship search, everything you have created online becomes fair game for potential employers. In other words, to keep your reputation professional remove any incriminating photos or posts from your Facebook page. We recommend a separation between professional activities and purely social ones, therefore make sure your privacy settings are such that only those individuals to whom you have granted permission will see your details. Keep in mind, however, that no site is entirely foolproof.