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Improve Your Employment Network

Need a push to get out there and network? Try these tips.

Practice Your Elevator Speech

Elevator SpeechIf you get the chance to speak to someone about a job or opportunity that you seek, make sure that you're clear and concise in your intentions. Have an "elevator speech" ready, in your head, to let people know what kind of career or employment you think would be right for you. And make sure that the same story is being told to anyone who could influence a decision that could possibly land you a position. Write down your statements about the elevator speech. Memorize them. Practice the speech in the mirror. Project confidence in your voice and, when put on the spot, deliver it with the same casual confidence.

Use Social Media Tools to Help You Network

LinkedInIf you're using social media sites to help you look for a job, then it only stands to reason that the social networking tools that are more businesslike will be most appropriate. LinkedIn, Plaxo and Facebook's BranchOut top the list. Remember that sites like these are built to be business-to-business tools. Utilize them to help build your business and professional network – if you look to employ friends in this capacity, converse with them on professional matters only. You can chat with them, talk about last night's dinner party or plan next week's boating trip in email or on other sites.

PlaxoA good, well-structured LinkedIn profile will pay you great dividends when potential employers look to verify information about you on the web. This holds true for Plaxo, Facebook's BranchOut and other professional networking sites. Also, subscribing to professional groups on these social networking sites could help to establish credibility for your experience and abilities.

BranchOutWe know, completing a profile on any business networking social media site can be a daunting task. Complete it in phases. Write a draft of your profile and any supporting data in a word processor first. Make your edits and clean up your communication in that document. Once you're satisfied with your communication, copy and paste that data to the profile creation tool on the networking site. A little bit of homework, and a good deal of care, will yield you results in a more polished and professional presentation.

Once you've established presences on major networking sites, don't forget to check in from time to time! Use account settings, where applicable, to make sure that you receive automated updates whenever someone is conducting a conversation with you.

Regarding other social media tools – Twitter may help, and there may be other industry-specific tools that would be right for you and your desired profession. But, more often than not, Facebook will suffice as a personal communication tool, and is probably not well suited for most business conversations. But, if a Facebook message is the only way that you can communicate one-to-one with the potential employer or your "person on the inside," then use it, but use it carefully.

When you use any of these tools, remember to cast your net wide and connect with all of the past colleagues, supervisors, employees and mentors from your past. Make them aware of your search and your current abilities. You never know who might be able to help you. A first level or second level connection on the social networking site could yield you results as long as you are genuine, honest and practical in your communications. Having someone "on the inside" who can vouch for you can yield great results. It could help you rise to the top of a group of nameless and faceless job candidates. Don't underestimate the power of familiarity! And remember, it's important to sound confident, and composed when conducting any communication in social media.

Review Your Facebook and Twitter History

Facebook Dos and DontsRemember that those potential employers can find your LinkedIn presence, but they can also see what you've been up to on Facebook and Twitter. So, clean up any non-essential, or possibly compromising, data on these sites. More and more employers are going to these sites to get a feel for who possible applicant might be. Make sure that your reputation is as spotless as it can be as you conduct your search.

Get Busy Off-Line Too

You should also put a great deal of effort into networking off-line. Once again, the elevator speech will come in handy. Is there a group that meets regularly where you can get to know people in industry that you're pursuing? Is there a local alumni chapter of your industry or alma mater? Be prepared to hand out business cards at these events.

As always, the best way to get an inside track on a job lead is with a referral from someone already employed at that company. If you've identified such a source, be prepared to be persistent, but courteous, when chasing down the lead. And, with any relationship, you'll reap greater rewards if you can bring genuine value to the connection –focus on "What can I do for this person?" rather than "What can this person do for me?"


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