Networking, networking and networking; a method pounded into minds as students approach the internship and job search. There’s no doubt connecting with professionals in your desired industry can lead to potential opportunities, but how can you effectively interact with professionals via social media, especially those you don’t know? The answer; Twitter and LinkedIn. Twitter, a more laid-back way to interactively connect with professionals and LinkedIn, a more professional and experience-oriented site are your go-to tools. When used effectively, these two sites can provide diverse ways to build relationships with professionals.
Finding the Pro’s
On Twitter there are endless possibilities of discovering professionals to connect with who share similar interests as yourself. Look at who the thought-leaders in your industry are re-tweeting, lists of accounts pertaining to your interests and those who are following you. Make sure to always follow companies you’re fascinated with, especially ones where you are applying for a position. Twitter is an open and inviting forum to follow and engage with professionals you don’t know.
LinkedIn is slightly different. Most professionals prefer to connect on LinkedIn with students whom they know or share common interests or connections with. If you met someone at a networking event or have worked with them in the past, perfect! If there’s someone at a company you’re interested in, see if you have a mutual connection and ask them to introduce you. If you have no connection to the person, explain why you’re interested in connecting with them. NEVER send a generic invitation message; always make it personal!
A re-tweet, favorite or @mention is a simple way to make an impression on a professional. If someone follows you, send them a welcome message via DM. Twitter is interactive, so there are hundreds of opportunities to chat about an interest you may both have. If a conversation develops, DM them asking to chat via email or telephone for a more in-depth discussion.
After someone accepts your invitation on LinkedIn, send them a brief message thanking them for connecting and explain who you are and why you look forward to keeping in touch. Take a quick glimpse through their profile to gain some background information to keep in mind for future contact. On LinkedIn you’re also able to see who has recently viewed your profile. Reach out to that person within 20 days with a friendly message to keep their attention.
Twitter chats are the perfect opportunity to talk with the thought-leaders in your industry. Participate in chats and make sure to interact directly. Don’t be afraid to tweet at someone asking them a direct question in relation to something you’re both interested in; you’ll most likely receive a rapid response.
After connecting on LinkedIn, make sure to look through their profile and see if anything specific interests you to chat with them about. Join LinkedIn groups similar to your experiences and participate in the conversations. This is a perfect opportunity to find professionals who have similar talking points as you.
Twitter is a more spontaneous, open environment and LinkedIn is the professional, research-driven compliment. Whether you’re looking to gain insight, trying to overcome geographical barriers or on the prowl for an internship or job, Twitter and LinkedIn can both be used in their own ways to build your professional network.
This blog post was written by Ashleigh Mavros, our campus ambassador from Ohio University. You can follower her on twitter at @Mavrosa19