Weddle’s Golden Rule of Online Networking

Yesterday I was reviewing resumes at a California Job Journal job fair and read an article in their newsletter by employment industry guru Peter Weddle titled, “Give as Good as You Hope to Get.” It raises a great point about job search networking in general and “electronic” networking (via LinkedIn and other social media/internet resources) in particular. I’m not sure if it’s currently available online somewhere, so I wanted to include some key points from the article.

Problems with Online Networking in a Job Search

Weddle quickly points out–and emphasizes–that building a large online network of contacts doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful job search strategy. As he puts it, “would you risk your reputation and credibility to stand up for someone who was essentially a stranger? I doubt it, and that reality is the invisible flaw in online networking today.” He goes on to say that the traditional Golden Rule applies to everyday human interactions while workplace interactions call for an amended version of the rule. Rather than “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” it becomes “give as good as you get. If you want others to help you in your job search, you must first be helpful to them.” Prime example: Your LinkedIn network contacts must become relationships, not just names in your online database.

Invest Time and Energy in Online Networking

More than likely, you’re not going to develop any genuine relationships–even relatively casual ones–with all the individuals in your online network. It would take more time and effort than most people can devote to it. However, you need to accept that this will probably limit the effectiveness of those connections with whom you haven’t established any real relationship, when it comes to beefing-up your job search. If you have a substantial number of people in your online network, you’ll have to establish some priorities; in other words, determine who and how many you’re going to put time and energy into creating a give-and-take relationship with. It becomes a quality versus quantity issue. Most employers aren’t likely to be impressed by the sheer size of your network, and most of the people in your network aren’t going to speak up with employers on your behalf because you haven’t invested the right time and energy in creating relationships with them.

Quick Tips for Invigorating Your Online Networking

Although Weddle makes clear that overnight success in this area is highly unlikely, he does offer a couple of tips to generate some quick momentum:

  • Join discussion forums on websites of professional societies or trade associations and participate 3-4 times a week, making an effort to contribute useful information and insights.
  • Identify most popular peer blogs or LinkedIn groups and “brand yourself as someone who contributes regularly and for the good of others.”

Remember the old saying (which I’ve probably quoted before): Garbage in, garbage out. If you don’t contribute value, you won’t receive value from your online networking.

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