How to Network Using Social Media

Lauren Malmon ImageBy: Lauren Malmon, MA/HR
Principal of Career Innovations

How can you incorporate social networking sites and social media for job search networking?

As Irish writer Oscar Wilde once said, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” It is wise to include networking as a large part of your job search, and while traditional and face-to-face networking is critical, in the 2000′s, social networking sites and other social media can be a great means of getting “talked about.” A Google search on “social networking sites” brings up 53,000,000 records!

Why use the web for networking?

Web networking is convenient and 24/7, and it’s less threatening than face-to-face or phone networking. Using the principle of six degrees (or less) of separation, social networking dramatically widens your visibility to recruiters, hiring managers, and many others so that thousands of individuals may have access to your information. In this way, on a 3 degree site like LinkedIn, you have your rolodex, your contacts’ rolodexes, and their contacts’ rolodexes! Start with 50-100 contacts, and end up with a network of millions! Further, you can research and screen extensively on social networking sites, look “tech savvy” with your posts; and most importantly, use the process as a precursor to offline relationships and meetings (NOT as a substitute).

What can you obtain from social networking?

Among other benefits, social networking can help you become more savvy about your field by obtaining new information based on your goals; you can keep an eye on the competition, you can connect easily to your professional (or general) community; and you can look for jobs or identify contacts in desired companies or with desired backgrounds.

What are the steps for using the web for networking?


Select target sites that make sense for your field and goals, but also choose popular general sites like LinkedIn that provide access to millions of individuals and a variety of tools and resources. Statistically, some of the most popular social networking sites (with the largest reach) are:

• LinkedIn (see section on using LinkedIn for networking and search)

• Facebook

• Ecademy (global, UK)

• Ryze

• Xing

Don’t confuse online networking with job boards, where you simply post your resume to apply for positions. While job boards can definitely be useful to find positions, online networking means more than that: it means actively getting to know others to create mutually beneficial, sustainable give-and-take relationships. Especially when you take into account that a posted job can generate over 1,000 responses, your best bet is to find jobs in the “hidden job market.” Since around 75-85% of jobs are estimated to be obtained through networking, social networking can increase your chances of tapping into that hidden job market and reducing the amount of competition you will face.


When you post a profile, focus on benefits, not features; show your personality–but keep it professional. Add skills, strengths, and personal qualities…but focus on accomplishments and the impact you have achieved. Make sure you are using relevant keywords (use the “Google Keyword Tool” for ideas). Make sure your goals are clear. Review the LinkedIn example below for more specifics on profile creation.


In the 2000′s, you must continually assess your online identity and digital profile. Why is it important to be aware of your digital profile? According to research by ExecuNet, more than 43 percent of recruiters have eliminated candidates based on what they found while performing an online search. And upwards of 83% of recruiters have checked up on candidates online.

How do you assess your online brand (i.e. your professional image)? People often do this by Googling themselves, using the popular search engine. While Google is a commonly used site, don’t forget to try others from time to time! “Reputation sites” such as Ziggs and Naymz are also good resources to keep an eye on your online presence. Go to the sites, create a profile, and have notifications sent each time your profile is viewed. This way, you also get a positive, up-to-date hit about you during a web search, because your own customized online profile will be viewed! Finally, there are myriad ways of cleaning up any “digital dirt” you find about yourself (one service: Reputation Defender). Keep informed of what online image you are projecting-always.


What is your strategy for building your network? Experts debate quality vs. quantity, but social networking is not about winning popularity contests. It is really quality and diversity that you want to cultivate. Can your network serve a variety of needs? Do you have a full-service network full of allies, advocates, role models, and targets?

What are some ways to find professionals in your field?

Now that you know your brand is “safe,” you can connect with other professionals in your field to help each other achieve career goals. Meet (virtually) people who know people who may know more about a chosen field, or even about your ideal job opportunity. Make a good impression, and you could have someone on the inside helping influence a hiring decision.

Where can you find others with similar interests? You can join discussion groups and special interest groups. If you post on their sites, you can also showcase your expertise! Places to look:

• LinkedIn Groups

• Google Groups

• Professional Association Sites

• Volunteer organizations: Check for a clearinghouse of local charities looking for help.

What are some other ways to find employers online?

Google Alerts: Set up specific Google Alerts and Google will contact you when something relevant appears in the top 20 to 50 search results. Follow the media and get a jump on potential networking and employment opportunities.

• Set an alert for your own name and track your brand (or discover when you may need to defend your good name).

• Set an alert for a target employer, their major competitor(s), or an influential industry executive.

• Set an alert for your industry, and Google will let you know about new items in the top search results for the industry.

Searches on your social networking sites: this works on any of the sites you join.

What are some ways to get employers to find you online?

Option One: Create Electronic Profiles, using:

• LinkedIn (a business network of more than 50 million users)

• Facebook (a SOCIAL network of more than 150 million users, but that can be used professionally)

• ZoomInfo and similar sites to find other people and companies

• Your URL: go to for inexpensive domain registration; register your site to be searchable to future employers on,,, etc.

• An Online Visual CV: go beyond a résumé to create a multimedia, professional online résumé/”webfolio” and/or website that can be continually updated through sites such as and

Option Two: Blog!

• Create your own blog using,,,,, or

• Register your blog on search engines through

• Share your expertise on other’s blogs and/or sites – (review industry publications), association websites, or listservs for your industry, relevant news sites, etc. Check out for an example.

Option Three: Explore other social media like wikis, podcasts, vlogs, and webinars

Many options exist for getting your professional brand out on the web.

Using LinkedIn: An Example

Let’s run through an example of how to get started on LinkedIn and use the available tools for social networking. LinkedIn is a professional social networking tool established in 2003 that now serves more than 50 million users in many professions and industries.

Getting Started on LinkedIn

First, create your profile. There are two flavors on LinkedIn: Your Profile on LinkedIn and Your Public Profile (which can be seen by everyone and found via search engines). Be concise and truthful. Include a Professional Headline – - the first thing people will see in your profile. Include information from your resume in the Experience section. Link to other sites that showcase your online identity in your profile. Fill out Primary Industry of Expertise to find others in your industry or enable them to find you. In the Summary, include a well-written sound bite that includes what you are looking for, your skills/strengths/personal qualities, and your accomplishments. You can also put your interests under Professional Interests.

Second, customize your membership using Accounts and Settings. You can pay for additional services, including the option of sending direct emails to contacts outside your immediate network (known as “inmail”). If possible, also upload a professional photo, make your connections visible to others (to show you are open to helping others), and notify your network of any significant changes to your profile. Control access as appropriate.

Third, invite others to join your network. Customize the boilerplate message to make a stronger and more personal impression on potential colleagues. To find contacts, you can go through Add Connections. You can use Find Colleagues or Find Classmates. You can invite 6 contacts or import and invite your contacts from a common email such as Outlook or webmail such as gmail, AOL, Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail. You can filter your connections by location, industry, and people with new connections. You can also look at statistics from your broader network. And remember to give back to your contacts–offer recommendations, suggest someone as an expert in Answers or Discussions, or identify groups your contact may find interesting.

Networking Features of LinkedIn:

Applications: some interesting ones allow you to create and post Google Presentations, collaborate online, watch companies through Company Buzz, etc.

Groups: join or create groups (view groups you are part of under “My Groups”). Managing a group raises your visibility, and you can enlist up to 9 friends to help. Group pages have an overview, discussions, news, updates/messages, member overview, and settings.

Jobs and JobInsider tool: click on Jobs in the top menu to find jobs, ask questions, or use JobInsider to open a new pane that locates contacts you have inside a target company.

People Tab: for a robust search, use Advanced People Search or Reference search (to find individuals who worked at an organization during a specified time period).

Companies Tab: look for information/statistics, new hires, recent promotions and changes, popular profiles, and related companies (to find subsidiaries or competitors).

Network Updates: use this as a catalyst to reach out to a contact and keep momentum going in your relationship.

Recommendations: solicit some to build your brand! They can be modified later if necessary.


Hopefully you are walking away with the basics to create an online networking strategy. However, with the glut of information and hundreds of social networking sites and tools available, you’ll need to continue to research the right options for you.

Lauren Malmon, MA/HR has over 15 years of experience in Human Resource Management, résumé writing, and career development with hundreds of clients in private practice, Fortune 500 and small companies, the world’s largest Outplacement consulting company, Universities, and the Federal Government. She is Principal of Career Innovations ( specializing in complex job histories and career changers. She can be reached at