Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking with a professional face – 4 creating strategically effective social networking profile content

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on March 11, 2011

This is my fourth posting in an ongoing series on social networking with a professional face (see Social Networking and Business, postings 106, 108 and 109 for parts one through three), and in a real sense this posting is all about you.

What you include in a business and professionally oriented social networking profile depends entirely on you and on clearly understanding and articulating:

• What you are looking for professionally, and
• Who you would reach out to with this message.

I start this discussion with a focus on the first bullet point and do so with a series of questions.

• Are you looking for a first or early career entry level job?
• Are you making a career change into a new industry, a new functional area or both?
• Are you looking to land a job after a protracted period out of the job market? That can be for any number of reasons including return from military service, completion of a period of full time education or simply being out of work and looking, and I only touch on a few of the possibilities here. I mention in this context of this bullet point that none of the possibilities I raise here are simple, and all can come in a wide range of forms and conditions depending on your precise history and circumstances.
• Are you working now and primarily passively searching?
• Are you looking to find a new opportunity where you can take a next step up along a career path?
• Are you looking for a full time job?
• Are you looking for a part time job?
• Are you looking to consult and to network with and cultivate potential clients?
• Do you have a business where you are looking for customers?
• There are a lot more possibilities and many of them can be relevant simultaneously, and either as equally weighted or as higher and lower priority goals. I simply conclude adding to this list to turn its completion over to you as you consider the above options and add more as might better apply to you.

The important point in this list and in the exercise of thinking through which if any of the above apply to you, is that you really think through what you would business-social network for as a specific target goal.

Now I turn to the second point, noting you really need to know the What and Why of this before you can accurately tune in on the Who you would online market to and network with. Are you looking to connect with:

• Recruiters?
• Hiring managers and in-house gatekeepers at businesses you would target in a search?
• Purchasing agents?
• Prospective clients or customers?
• Who? Really think this through and keep in mind that if you have two or more distinct business networking goals you may have two or more very distinct target audiences.

Use LinkedIn and its search tools to find and review an assortment of individual professional profiles posted by the types of people you would reach out to. Here and at this stage it does not matter whether you can see their full names listed or not, where you will not unless you are at least second degree connected to them. Focus in on profiles that give details so you can better understand who these people are, what their backgrounds are and what they focus on as their priorities.

Do the same type of general, background search as appropriate for job descriptions related to the type and level of work you do, in effect mining sites like monster.com, dice.com and the like for knowledge.

Your goal in both is in gaining general and demographic level knowledge where you network with individuals no matter what your networking goals, and you do this in their context of their work and business experience. Look to learn their vocabularies and their issues and priorities. Then use this knowledge in crafting your own profile so you can present yourself as an insider who is aware of their needs and priorities. And with that I turn to what you write.

• When you write a resume, your goal is to draft a document that specifically targets a particular job at a particular, individual company. This is important – customize and with a laser focus so the people you reach out to in any specific job search campaign know you are really applying to the job they are hiring for and not simply sending out generic copy to the winds.
• When you write copy for a social networking profile you write to a more general and wide-ranging audience and even if you have only found one target goal in the first bullet point list above. So focus on your ideal job – your next step best fit job that you would reach if you were able to do anything in a next job that you wanted and according to the fullest of your potential. I cite a posting I wrote earlier in this context on elevator pitches. Keep your answer to the next job magic wand question in mind and for a very simple reason. The more clearly you can and do articulate this and the more often and effectively you do, the more likely you are to actually find and get that ideal next job – or that ideal consulting assignment and career or whatever you would find yourself looking for as a top choice in that top bullet point list, above.

I am going to continue this discussion of profile content in my next posting in this series, looking into your content offered and also as issues like online recommendations, and selecting and using special features (e.g. LinkedIn Q&A feature, LinkedIn groups and use of web apps.)

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