Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Metro: Link up to get ahead

In Metro:

How social networking can help and hurt your career

As the old adage about getting ahead goes — it all depends on who you know. In prehistoric times (before Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter), in order to expand your professional contacts, you would have to attend networking conferences and awkward work happy hours. But now, because of such sites, your social and professional networks have expanded indefinitely. And as many experts point out, it’s up to you to navigate it correctly.

“Social networking gives you the opportunity to build relationships with people across the globe, 365 days a year,” says Rebekah Hudder, a social media specialist. “It opens doors to meeting new people who could be potential clients, referral sources or employers. You can further your career and promote your personal brand recognition.”

But with the ease of the Internet comes the constant work of updating your pages and maintaining proper relationships online, as Diane Coffey, a public relations manager at Kel & Partners, a Web marketing firm, points out. “You need to give more than you receive. Be ready to offer information that can help others. People don’t forget who helped lead them to a great job opportunity.”

However, online social networking can also be detrimental because if you’re using it, you can bet potential human resources managers and bosses have seen your profile.

“Social networking can end your career as fast as you can say the word ‘Facebook,’” says Stephen Viscusi, founder of Bulletproofyourresume.com. “No boss would admit it, but every HR department uses it to make hires and fires.”

And in the end, you can’t forget about your old ways of connecting with contacts. “Social networking sites are used to connect with people,” says Coffey. “But they can only take you so far. Jobseekers should use social networking sites as a way to begin a relationship with a potential employer.”