By Ronald Mitchell, for Yahoo! HotJobs
According to LinkedIn, a business social networking site, I have 541,900 people in my network.
I am certain that I don't actually know that many people, but the wonders of social networking have enabled each of us to build networks of this scale. Because Web 2.0 has given us access to a limitless number of people, networking becomes less a function of who you know and more a matter of who knows you.
To be an effective Web 2.0 networker, you must act as your own personal public relations director. In order to be recognized among thousands of possible connections, you must craft and communicate an image for yourself as if you were a premier consumer brand like Coke, Disney or American Express. In a world where information and people are one click away, positive results from a Google search on your name can be much more powerful than a handshake or short conversation.
Below are three tips you should employ when networking in a Web 2.0 world.
Highlight Your Successes
Everyone loves a winner. If you can demonstrate that you are one, you will find that people will be helpful to you, despite the fact that they have never met you. However, their level of assistance is often based upon what they can infer from information readily available on the Web. Consequently, highlighting your successes in online profiles becomes essential.
Your success may take the form of attending a great university, working for a premier company or achieving recognition in some extracurricular activity. Don't worry about being perceived as a braggart. The more highlights you can provide the better, including recommendations from business associates and listings of awards and accolades.
Show the Right Relationships
Transparency is the rule in Web 2.0. Through an online profile, virtual strangers can often view intimate information about you and your network. If you have the "right" individuals in your network, you may find that people want to know you simply because of who you know.
When building your connections, spend less time accumulating the greatest number of "friends" and focus on showing the right ones. You should be certain to include two types of people: those who are decision-makers in their specific discipline, and those who have unique access to information and other individuals.
Providing Regular Updates
Public relations is about communication. Your Web 2.0 communication should regularly provide your network with updates on all aspects of your career. Updates may include switching jobs, changing geography or closing certain deals. If possible, you should craft these updates in a way that conveys how people might be helpful to you.
Be descriptive in your updates. For instance, "Moved to Chicago for new opportunity" is not as effective as "Moved to Chicago to pursue business development opportunities in financial services."
With the Internet the world has changed, and so must your networking strategy. It's not all bad. Just think about how many painful cocktail parties you would need to attend to meet 541,900 people.
[Ronald Mitchell is the co-founder and president of CareerCore LLC, a comprehensive career development Web-based platform for students and young professionals.]