Would you like to network with professionals in your industry from all over the world without traveling great distances to attend expensive conferences? Ever wish there was an easier way to directly contact a potential employer? This, and much more, is possible in cyberspace! The Internet is a networker's paradise. Over and over again studies show that networking is the most successful job search strategy. The Internet adds a new dimension to this popular activity.
Electronic networking uses three basic Internet tools - newsgroups, e-mail and live chat. To master these tools requires specialized communication skills. To be successful in this medium requires preparation and practice. Many of the standards that apply to good telephone communications apply to the Internet. Here are some general tips:
- Be concise and to the point. If you don't capture the reader's attention immediately they will move on to something else.
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread - Edit, Edit, Edit
Your communication should be grammatically perfect, error free and say what you mean. One advantage of this medium is that you can say exactly what you mean to say. You should never have to apologize for something you said in haste.
- Carefully follow the rules of nettiquette. There are numerous sites on the Internet and books which detail the standards of Internet etiquette. Sites that discuss Internet ettiquette can be found in the Internet Instruction section of the Minnesota Workforce Center Internet Directory (http://www.des.state.mn.us/links/direct.htm).
- Master and apply good networking techniques. Networking is not one sided, it should be mutually productive. Learn to give as much or more than you receive. Say "Thank You." Maintain good records. Plan your follow up.
- Treat everyone with respect.You never know who might have an impact on your professional future. Many employers participate in these discussions. That person on the other side of the world might have a contact or know about an employment opportunity in your back yard.
Networking is not simply asking people for a job or if they know who might be hiring! Networking is building relationships - many of which will last beyond your immediate job search. One of the most productive Internet networking strategies is to participate in Usenet Newsgroups or IRC Chat discussions relating to your occupation. There are thousands of these groups and most professional occupations are represented. Ultimately you will have to explore several groups until you find a couple that will meet your needs. There are a variety of tools that you can use to locate these groups. A listing of some of these tools can be found in the Search Tools/Directories section of the Minnesota Workforce Center Internet Directory (http://www.des.state.mn.us/links/direct.htm).
Once you decide on a couple of groups, be consistent. Follow the discussions on a regular schedule. Initially you should "lurk," just listen for awhile. Once you have a sense of the tone and culture of the group then you can enter into the discussion. Pay specific attention to who the key players are in the group. Don't begin your participation with a discussion of employment, unless that is the focus of the current topic. Establish yourself as committed to the group and build a few solid relationships. But also don't hesitate to let it be known that you are in the job market. Just like in real life, a popular introduction is "where do you work?" Respond with, "I'm between jobs right now," or "I work for XYZ Corporation but am considering new opportunities." Introductions aside, move directly back into an occupation related discussion.
Knowing when to post and when to respond directly to someone is fundamental to good Internet networking. There are very few absolute rules. Keep in mind however that when you post to a newsgroup or IRC discussion, you are communicating to the world. Virtually anyone can read your message - therefore your communication should be to the community at large. On the other hand you may want to communicate to only one or a few people. Then you would want to send the message direct by e-mail. There may also be occasions when you would want to do both.
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This page was last updated on April 17, 1997
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