“LinkedIn is for the people you know.
Facebook is for the people you used to know.
Twitter is for people you want to know.”
— Unknown (Genius)
Whether you’re a freshly minted graduate looking for that first great job or a wily veteran looking for that last great job, it’s all about networking.
It’s something that’s been true throughout the ages. Just ask my great-great-great-great-uncle, who used his connections to get a sweet gig as a court jester...until “the incident” which resulted in the Czar having him reassigned to horse patrol.*
To succeed in almost any career, you’ve got to be constantly schmoozing. Former coworkers, current colleagues, and anyone else who might be able to help you someday — or vice-versa, for reasons of good karma.
Yes, you can go to local business mixers, hand out monogrammed cards, and work the topic of your job search into polite conversation with the supermarket cashier in case they know somebody.
But the best way** to network is online. The social media tools available today are better, faster and usually more ethical than trying to get nudie photos of hiring managers and creative directors.
So let’s review each of the “Big Three” social spaces (not including Google+, but I’m starting to dig that one as well):
LinkedIn: The “Straighten Your Tie and Look Professional” Network
It’s your resume “plus.” More room to explain what you did at that last job, list all the clients you worked for...all that good stuff. But just beware that the same trap that lots of people fall into with their paper resumes — trying to make your job responsibilities sound extensive and jargon-y.
Keep it simple, keep it accurate, and don’t overdo it with the connection requests. I’ll admit that I got to a point where the LinkedIn Overlords banned me from requesting connections without knowing the person’s email address. (They showed mercy because I agreed to curtail those efforts, and my ban has been lifted.)
Recommendations are good, but people disagree on their importance. I think that if you get enough good ones, it’s more than a coincidence and paints a picture of you as a team player and valuable contributor. I’m still not sure how I feel about the new “endorsement” feature, but I’m participating just in case it becomes important.
Overall Importance for Career (out of 10): 9. Ya gotta be there, even if you’re a creative. (You can attach your portfolio or website or link to ’em.) Hopefully, enough employers will accept your profile as a substitute for the old, limited, boring paper resume.
P.S.: As for “following” Companies and the Groups feature on LinkedIn, I’m not a big fan. I can see some value in them, but just not for me (or probably you). It’s likely that most of the companies you’d want to follow pay more attention to their FB and Twitter accounts.
Facebook: The “Oh Nuts That Idiot From High School Wants to Be Friends and Post Politically Ignorant Stuff to Your Timeline” Network
Despite all the baby photos and “hilarious” shared jokes and FarmVille requests, there are some good career-oriented reasons to be active on Facebook. Just being connected to somebody can get you job leads.
That’s what happened to me a couple jobs ago. I had FB-friended another writer who had worked at the same agency as me (but a couple years before my time there), so we had a bunch of mutual friends. I’d see his funny comments on their pages and that we had some common interests — sports, pop culture, badassery, etc. So we connected.
I was laid off a few months later, and he tried to hook me up with freelance gigs a few times. And then he emailed me about a former boss of his who was looking for a senior-level writer. He introduced me to her online, I went for an interview a week later, and had the job 48 hours after that.
All that from a guy I never met in real life (and still haven’t) — thanks to Facebook.
Overall Importance for Career (out of 10): Ranges from 5–9. It might not ever help you like it did for me, but at the very least you can try to look up info on people you’re interviewing with during a job search. I did just that before going to the interview mentioned above, and our shared likes of sports, music, and movies made for a very pleasant meeting.
Twitter: The “Fire Hose of Usually Ridiculous Statements from Nobodys and Somebodys” Network
Some people post job opportunities (I try to, on occasion) on Twitter; some people search for them there too. I’m sure there are some great job search techniques for Twitter, but I don’t really use it for career stuff. For me, it’s more of a “say random things that I don’t want my Facebook people to see” kind of outlet.
There are some Twitter apps available for helping job seekers, but I’m not familiar with them. However, I am a big fan of “following” people and companies in the ad biz, which can be an effective way to discover job opportunities (if they’re hip enough to Tweet them).
And I suppose you could try “trolling” or “sub-Tweeting” — jumping into a conversation between other Twitterers — to interject yourself into a job-related chat. If you see Goodby and Silverstein Tweeting each other about finding new creative blood, you could always try to reply by saying “I’m full of creative blood!” (Of course, that might get you blocked and reported for spam, too.)
Overall Importance for Career (out of 10): Ranges from 3–7. I haven’t heard of anyone getting a job through Twitter, but that doesn’t mean it can’t/doesn’t/won’t happen. I’m just there to make fart jokes.
Schmooze Your Way to Better Karma
The bottom line is that it’s all worth trying. Whether you’re actively looking for a gig or just kinda putting feelers out there, social media can help you — in a variety of ways.
Just today, I saw a LinkedIn connection (a recruiter) post a few production-level jobs. I remembered a former colleague who got laid off a couple months ago and thought she might be interested. I suggested she contact the recruiter, and my former coworker was shocked to get an almost-immediate phone call. She messaged me to say “thanks so much!” with a few more exclamation points than I’m willing to use here. (Really hoping she gets the gig.)
So you can even spread the good karma, which can lead to untold wealth, fame, and power. Or, at the very least, a phone interview.
Are you social? No, not in the real-world sense of being able to maintain eye contact and hold a conversation...“social” in the online sense. Connected? And have you used it successfully for your career? Share in the comments...then post to your Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn that you commented.***
*Story may or may not be fictional.
**“Best” description not based on quantitative research.
***MySpace not included unless it becomes relevant again by 2014.
After a year of creative incarceration in Corporate World, your beloved Corporate Hack finally distracted the guards, outran the bloodhounds and scaled the wall to make his escape. Now that he’s back where he belongs in Ad World, he’s re-branded himself as The Inside Man...but he’s still having Ad-Verse Reactions.