You have cycled through your direct connections more than once. They are well aware that you’re looking for a new job. Now, you need fresh eyes and ears. Folks who operate in terrain that you don’t know firsthand. Or who can introduce you to additional players that exist in their digital network.
You have gone to career fairs, conferences, Meetup groups and learning venues, and the mounds of business cards you’ve gotten feel like the 10 pound sack of rice in your kitchen cupboard. That is, far too many to follow up efficiently, but dried up enough that you’re barely motivated to take a scoop for your daily portion. Feels like the same old, same old.
Now, you need to hyper-focus on people you can meet through digital networking. Professionals that are both strategically located themselves, and could potentially offer serious assistance to you.
Keep in mind that just as the maxim holds for in-person networking, you must shift your thinking and help someone else first, and then it will come back to you in kind, in the future.
Here are 8 ways to work smarter in your digital networking, and bring your own special sauce into the mix.
Get into the cutting edge of the digital networking world and explore Google+. The big advantage of this platform over the other more pedestrian ones such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogs, is that Google Plus is a tool of Google, the one ton gorilla, and everything that you share to your Google+ account is easily found by Google and enjoys an advantage in Google search. So while you may be blogging about your expertise related to the recent historic $25 billion mortgage settlement, in fact, your blog may show up on page 7, where no one looks. By your sharing content to your Google+ personal page, you may boost the results to appear on Google search several pages higher. Additionally, by being more discoverable, you may find jobs, fans and evangelists who can help you on your journey. No kidding, this reporter found her journalism job through sharing to Google+.
Meeting someone on Skype or video chatting with them is far more personal that just writing a text message or email to a stranger. To extend the point above, the killer feature of Google+ is the ability to hangout with up to ten other connections, and video chat with them all simultaneously. Explore this feature. It will not only give you confidence, but folks you meet in a Google+ Hangout can extend your network and be of great utility to you. Go to Hangout Canopy and install the widget. This puts a small icon onto the right-hand side of your Chrome browser. Whenever you want to see what hangouts are happening in real time worldwide, click the icon to pull down what is tucked underneath. Join the conversation and get involved. Once, when this reporter was hosting a Google+ Hangout with her partner, a fellow joined via the Canopy tool. We were able to be helpful to him in his objective of boosting his real estate business. After, he reciprocated by spontaneously writing a LinkedIn recommendation on this reporter’s profile.
Start a simple blog on a topic that you know inside and out, where you can be the authoritative voice on that topic. Your blog does not need to be tricked-out, but using a simple platform like Wordpress or Google, you can have the blog up and running in a short time. Then, add new content at least once a week, so there is a body of information that portrays your expertise on the Internet. Tag your content with labels that are the very same words you think users will type into the Google search bar, to find your expertise.
Whenever you publish new content, always tweet it utilizing hashtags to classify the subject matter of your tweets. This way, others who are using the twitter search tool can find your new content. In addition to helping you get retweets, given the trend towards human-curated platforms, folks in the rag trade on platforms such as scoop.it or paper.li will automatically pull in your most recent writing. When they do, reach out to them directly to network.
Ensure that your blog has Google Analytics enabled, and check your traffic sources to see who is referring traffic to your blog. For example, if someone working remotely has a Google Alert set to a power word in your headline, that Google Alert will pick up your new post. If they like it, they might recommend it to others. In this way, this reporter has “met” people from Kuwait to Canada who have sent hundreds of readers to this reporter’s personal blog, from bookmarked sites such as Reddit and Delicious. Send a direct message from the bookmark site. Start a relationship with that person, to learn how you can assist them so they are inclined to continue pointing their digital contacts to you.
Join Groups in LinkedIn and search the Members tab to find people who have interesting career paths, or many connections in the industry that you target. Then, write them directly via the button ‘Send message.’ In fact, this gives you the opportunity to directly reach out to someone and use the most valuable feature of LinkedIn Premium, i.e. the direct response tickler, for free. Warning: Before you reach out, study their profile and say something that is customized. Do not send something that shows no thought. The objective of your email is to ask if you can have a telephone conversation on such-and-such a date at a specific time. In other words, take it offline as soon as possible, so that you can learn more about them. Back to the maxim. You need professional contacts, so give them a reason to respond.
Utilize LinkedIn Answers, which is tucked under the ‘More’ menu on LinkedIn. Ask a question, and you will receive numerous answers from users with expertise on that topic. Rate them ‘Good’ if in fact they are, and then reach out to the person who offers the 'Best’ answer, You have just “set the table” for a digital networking encounter, so now you can break bread and connect with them directly to ask about their expertise and learn how you can reciprocate and help them.
Load up your thought piece on the Box application, and using LinkedIn Groups, point to the article and ask your fellow Group members for their thoughts. Each time someone adds to the discussion, click through to their LinkedIn profile, study it and write to them directly.
It is not necessary to follow all these tips at once. Don't get overwhelmed. Start from where you are and incorporate a few of these approaches in your game plan, and you will reap the payoff of better digital networking and numerous relationships with professionals who can present new job or freelance opportunities.
Image courtesy of Creative Commons, Marc_Smith