To be honest, I do not have a specific strategy for developing my professional network online. What I try to do though is use social networks that interest me because I find if I am somewhat interested in it, I will continue to update it and check it regularly. Currently I am using Twitter and Facebook as my main social networking tools to develop my professional network. Although, these are more for personal use, I am trying to incorporate professionalism in both. This is a little difficult to do because some people that I do network with in person, do not use these tools.
At the moment, my strategy for developing my professional network in person, I find is more efficient than what I do online. I try to involve myself with social events at my work whether it be charity events or company parties/BBQ. From these events, not only do people from my work attend but other dealerships that are partnered with us are also involved. During these events I try to interact with many people, specifically individuals who I do not know like managers and owners. By doing this I try to increase my network with the help of my current managers who explain to our superiors who I am and how I am a great asset to the company. The help from my managers helps me to be noticed rather than being just another employee. Aside from work, I try to move outside my comfort zone and network with people from my church and my parent’s friends. Doing this gives me a lot of opportunities and opens many doors. I think this strategy trumps the one I do with my work because it moves away from the automotive industry and gives me a variety of networks and links to possibly better my career path. My parent’s friends always inform me of job openings within their industry or happens to know somebody that can refer me when I apply for a specific field.
Although my online network is not as strong as my personal network, I do feel that if I apply myself and spend more time to build it, in the end it will be a lot more effective. It is much easier to communicate and get a hold of people online than in person. A lot of the time people cannot find the time to meet due to conflicting schedules. By increasing my online network, I eliminate this obstacle and people can communicate at their convenience. It is very common that people have their networks linked to their PDA devices which is also a bonus. The commitments I am making in the next 6-12 months to continue the development of my online network is signing up and using more professional social media tools. I am going to look into networks such as: LinkedIn, hoot suite, and Pinterest. I feel that these applications will help build my network, market myself, and create a portfolio of job postings.
I need to face the facts, doing what I am doing now in the automotive industry is not cutting it for me. Unless I land a better position within my current company where they pay me the big bucks to stay, I may consider it. As of this year, networking has been really important to me because I am trying to change my career path. This is why my “in person” professional networking is helping out a lot. Over the next year I plan to set up meetings with some of the people that have offered to help and assist me in career opportunities. During these meetings I hope to meet the people they network with so I can increase my professional network. This will give me a variety of contacts that I can use now or in the future. Hopefully, in turn, I can be of some assistance to them as well.
It seems appropriate to conclude this blog in one sentence, stressing the importance of networking: In today’s society, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know!