A critical part of successful job search involves social networking (i.e. connecting with people). Whether you like doing it or not.
And the challenging part is connecting with new people. People who have absolutely no clue who you are. And, at least for now, have no practical reason to drop everything and help you.
But you need this to happen. You need your situation to matter to people. And you need to build social credibility.
So how do you give people a reason to invest?
1. You reduce risk
If you read 5 Ways To Reduce The Risk In You, I introduced the idea of making your candidacy less risky to hiring managers and companies. We’re all busy. And all looking to reduce commitments in life. And, for some, taking on another project can be a distraction. So if you can reduce the risk of someone helping you, the odds are better that someone will step in.
One of the best ways to reduce risk in relationships is to have a friend provide a warm introduction. It is less likely that a friend of a friend will be risky. Not a fail safe solution, though. Since we all have people in our lives that we’d introduce without telling the whole story.
2. You make it easy
Knowing that people are busy, why not make it super easy? Get introduced through a connection on LinkedIn so that your friend simply has to forward a note from you. And perhaps you can even suggest a way for you to be introduced. Or write a bio on yourself that friends can simply copy and paste into an e-mail introduction.
Making it simple with email and LinkedIn is smart. After all, recent social networking research has identified the two as the most preferred methods for a first contact.
3. You are quick to find and research
What’s the first thing we do when a stranger wants to connect? We go look for them online. We look for social credibility. On Google, Facebook, Twitter or Facebook. To see who we know in common (reduce risk), to remember who you are (if perhaps a forgotten connection), to see how we are similar to each other (common interests, industry, function, geography).
If you make it hard for me to find you, it is less likely that I will respond to a request. So stop hiding.
4. You are relevant
It helps a lot if you just save me the work and tell me why you’d like to connect. I get too many generic connection requests on LinkedIn without any attempt to show relevance. Am I alone in wanting a personalized LinkedIn connection request? Is it too much to ask?
Relevance is a big driver of social credibility. We attended the same college, are members of the same group or work in the same industry. Give me something to believe that my effort for you will provide some value. When something ties us together, it makes me want to follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.
5. You are legitimate
If your end game is a job with my (or my friend’s) company, it would be a good idea to vet yourself. To make sure that your candidacy for the job is worth the time we’re both about to put into the connection. If my effort to get you connected is going to lead to embarrassment or frustration. I won’t feel good.
So apply for jobs where you are truly qualified. And reach out to people if/when their help can get you connected to a target company. One where you will be seen as a qualified candidate. Don’t be a burden on the hiring market. And don’t be a burden on your network.
Building social credibility takes time. As does executing a smart social networking strategy. You can get some ideas by reading how someone built credibility with me.
Also I liked this from Vanessa DiMauro in a post on Social Media Today called You May Not Be My Online Friend, But You Influence Me:
“In business, social credibility stems from expertise, accomplishments, battle scars and length of service in ones given profession.The credible people are those who have fought the good fight, won some and lost some, and have the stories to prove it. Voracious use of social media is no substitute for these badges of honor, no matter how actively one participates in an online dialogue. Lack of experience or know-how becomes ever more obvious when someone shares information without a solid foundation of understanding.In this new social economy, the currency of authority is deep knowledge.Enthusiastic participation does not always equal expertise in practice.”
So think about how you are viewed. As soon as your e-mail or connection request is opened by a stranger.
What criteria will they use to determine whether to respond? And why should they invest in you?
Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Career Networking