FALL 2008 VOL. 9 NO. 2

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Social Networking: Maximize Your Potential in Today’s Business Climate

Social Networking is not a new concept, but in business and careers this dynamic process has been influenced by new communications technology tools that require adapted strategies and cultural etiquette to be effective. Generally, social networks are a complex system of relationships tied by shared interests, including values and idea exchange as well as potential trade or financial exchange. For purposes of career management, social networking is a way to develop “social capital” that can open doors and result in new opportunities with multiple benefits.

Informal vs. Formal: Be aware of the difference and understand that your profile may be affected by both types of networks. Informal networking may include how you meet and greet others in clubs or social events and may occur even online through blogging or cyber community environments such as MySpace. Formal networking occurs when you dress for success and present at a career fair, job interview or professional conference. While either situation can offer new associations or contacts, your informal behaviors or dialogues can move through the grapevine, so be careful not to publish information that can come back to haunt you.

Pay it Forward: You always remember those that have made a difference and you can inspire others to do the same. The best way to establish relationships in person or in writing is to consider how to contribute something of constructive value. If you are seeking connections in a professional association, volunteer on a committee which can help you meet many other members and build your professional reputation. If you want to meet influential business leaders, many of them participate on advisory boards for non-profits where you might offer assistance to a business project.

Tools of the Trade: Learn what social networking tools and associations are available to you and used by those in the fields or functional areas that most interest you. Career industry research tools such as Vault, which you can access via HireSmith, include industry specific forums where you can learn from insiders about your field, ask questions to help prepare for interviews, and keep on top of current trends. Smith’s eAlumni Network is your connection to other Smith School alumni working in your field, your city, and maybe even in your building. Access and utilize free resources and tools.

Pay Homage to All Opportunities:  These days networking is a combination of many modes. So if you are wondering if you should a) use the online tools; b) send professional letters by mail; c) show up in person at an event with your resume in hand; or d) attend an event and leave your business card along with a good personal impression, the correct answer is: e) all of the above.

Please contact Dana Monroig in the Smith Office of Career Management with questions about alumni career resources at 301-405-9978.


Copyright 2008 Robert H. Smith School of Business