Facebook is great for staying in touch with friends, sharing funny cat videos or seeing what an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend is up to, but can it help you get a job? Absolutely. Social-media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are great platforms for networking and keeping up with industry trends.
"The benefits can be huge. Although time consuming, if you do it correctly, you can gain lots of attention, fans, followers and clients," says Ashley Jones, owner of Skylight Creative Group, a marketing, graphic design and photography company. "I've done a lot of networking through social media for myself personally, my two companies and also helping other companies through their startup/launch process."
Here are Jones' top seven tips for networking via social media:
1. Don't post something just to post it. Make sure your content is relevant or interesting.
2. If you're using social media to network, stay professional. There's a tendency to relax and get too casual or personal.
3. Use the tools to their full potential. If you're on LinkedIn, join groups, answer questions or get your name and profile out there to meet new people. No matter the platform, don't expect people to come to you if you're not engaging.
4. Don't spam or post too frequently. People are bombarded with updates, messages, etc., and if you post too much fluff, you'll lose your audience fast.
5. Don't just post the same thing across different platforms. It's OK if you occasionally post something you tweeted to Facebook or upload a Facebook photo to Pinterest, but if you're constantly posting the same content across all platforms, why would anyone follow you on more than one platform?
6. Keep your content fresh. Don't let your last post sit for a month before another update. Keep things new so people come back and check for updates.
7. Follow up with connections. While this may be time-consuming, it goes a long way when you respond to a comment, post or message. It's a great way to let your fans or followers know you care.
The key to networking is becoming an active part of the community or industry of interest. Contribute to the conversation. Ask for advice about your current job or job prospect. Interact with others, and thoughtfully answer their questions. Post links to relevant articles you find. Networking should be a mutually beneficial experience, so if someone helps you, return the favor.