Networking is a key strategy for finding a job. In the past, networking meant going to networking meetings, contacting people you knew personally, or asking friends and colleagues to introduce you to people they knew. These are still valuable ways of tapping into the "hidden" job market.
Today, however, these networking methods are not enough. Job seekers and career changers need to become familiar with and take advantage of online social media. Increasingly, employers are using professional sites to find new employees and to check into the backgrounds of people who have applied for positions. Studies indicate that thirty percent or more of employers now use social networking sites to connect with potential recruits, and an even larger percentage use networking sites to check into the backgrounds of those who apply for positions.
If you are not utilizing social networking to develop your online presence and "brand", not only are you missing out on tremendous networking opportunities, but you may also be damaging your job search. Many employers view having an online presence as an essential element for prospective employees.
In this article we have listed several social networking sites to help you see the scope of what social media offers you. If you have not yet developed an online presence, begin with LinkedIn. Invest time not only in developing your professional profile, but also in learning how to utilize the available networking opportunities. The more you "work" the network, the better it will work for you.
Social Media Sites
To begin developing your professional online network, here are two sites to get you started. If you do not yet have a LinkedIn profile, begin there.
LinkedIn.com -- a key social networking site for professionals from around the world, currently with more than 20 million members; a site in which you can promote your site and what you do, develop relationships with other professionals, and ask and answer questions.
Facebook.com -- Although seen primarily as a fun way to keep in touch with friends and family, Facebook can also be helpful when you're looking for employment.
Here are some additional sites catalogued at quintcareers.com. (Please note that listing them in this article does not indicate an endorsement.)
Other job and business-related social networking sites:
Company of Friends -- Fast Company magazine's global readers' network. claims to have been the very first business social network. Fast Company readers have self-organized local discussion groups, mentoring and networking organizations, and creative problem-solving teams.
Ecademy.com -- Ecademy's aims "to build the world's largest trusted business network by connecting people to each other - enabling knowledge, contacts and opportunities to be shared for world wide wealth."
Jigsaw -- an online business contact marketplace where marketers, recruiters, and sales people can buy, sell and trade business contact information.
MediaBistro -- is dedicated to anyone who creates or works with content, or who is a non-creative professional working in a content/creative industry. The site's mission is to provide online and offline opportunities for meeting each other, sharing resources, becoming informed of job opportunities and interesting projects, improving career skills and showcasing work.
MyWorkster.com -- specializes in building exclusive, professional College networks. Through these networks, members get connected to exclusive career opportunities.
NetParty -- According to Forbes, Netparty functions as the entry point for a network of parties held in 17 U.S. cities, aimed at professionals in their 20s and 30s. The events, held at stylish clubs, are designed to combine business networking with social fun.
Networking for Professionals -- an online networking group designed for professionals from numerous occupations, where you can build your business, improve your client base, and/or advance your career.
PowerMingle.com -- Based in London, Powermingle Ltd, provides services for effective, interpersonal, business networking at events and in organizations and associations.
Real Contacts -- a worldwide online employment service for permanent or temporary jobs that brings employers and job-seekers together through their extended network of contacts.
Twitter- a web site and service that lets users send short text messages up to 140 characters in length from their cellphones to a group of people.
XING -- committed to powering relationships based on trust for all professional people.
Ziggs -- offers a search platform for professionals for finding people in business online.
ZoomInfo.com -- business-information search engine, with profiles on more than 45 million people and 5 million companies. ZoomInfo delivers a single site for quick and easy access to in-depth information on industries, companies, people, products, services and jobs. Job-seekers can post/edit your free profile, which can include your professional career details, bio, education, affiliations, contact information and Web references.
Additional social networking sites:
del.icio.us - place to share your personal bookmarks with an entire community of other people -- and where you can see what sites other people are bookmarking.
Delphi Forums -- one of the leading networks of member-managed online communities. Delphi's services enable individuals to build, manage and grow their own online communities.
Digg.com -- is a social news sharing for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web.
Friendster -- Friendster is an online community that connects people through networks of friends for dating, making new friends, and helping your friends meet new people.
hi5 -- an online networking site for meeting new people, connecting with friends, and sharing ideas.
iMantri -- an online peer-to-peer community for seeking and offering mentoring and coaching. The site facilitates connections between mentors and mentees and also provides a framework and tools for fostering mentoring relationships online.
Meetup -- helps people get together with a group of neighbors who share a common interest (46,315 groups and 4.7 million are part of Meetup).
MySpace.com -- is a social networking site that consists of worldwide community of users who share information, photos, videos, music, and more. You could decide whether to create a personal MySpace profile or develop one for your business.
Squidoo.com -- a social bookmarking site started by marketing guru Seth Godin, this site gives users a chance to showcase expertise in one or more areas by creating knowledge pages, called lenses... and the person creating each lens is, of course, called a lensmaster. Using this site gives you a chance to showcase your knowledge and link and promote your site.
StumbleUpon.com -- is a social bookmarking site that consists of a fairly large community (5+ million) in which people share their Website likes and dislikes with other members of the community.
Talk City -- One of the best-known chat and community sites on the Web. Offers free starter membership.
Tribe.net -- a service where friends help friends do everything from finding a job to sharing their favorite restaurant. Enables users to connect with people -- family, school friends, co-workers -- as well as join and create "Tribes" around interest areas. Users can get a friend's recommendation for anything from a great restaurant to a gentle dentist.