It’s that time of year again when thousands of graduating college students begin their job search and realize how tough making it in the “real world” can be. Young marketing professionals often ask me how they can stand out as they search for their first job. My advice to all jobseekers is to engage with prospective employers through digital networking and to make it personal.
Have a plan when you start your job search and do research on the companies and industries that interest you. There is a wealth of knowledge available online, but don’t stop there. Invest time and effort into digital networking with key individuals at your target companies. This is just like regular networking but is done through online channels.
Google the name of the gatekeeper who you would like to meet. I know this isn’t new advice but don’t stop there. Are they on LinkedIn? How about Twitter? What are their social media habits? For example, are they posting articles on LinkedIn or engaging with contacts on Twitter? Do they actively write a blog? Watch and learn more about how they engage with others, their interests and the types of information they read and share.
After performing your research, go ahead and connect or follow them, but you need to stand out. This is where you need to make your digital networking personal. Tell them a little about yourself. When you follow them on Twitter, let them know you like their tweets. For LinkedIn, do not just send them the standard, “I’d like to connect with you” request. Send a personalized request to connect instead of the standard LinkedIn request. Don’t share your life story but let them know you are genuinely interested in them.
Social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn provide a very nonthreatening forum to meet and network. Facebook may be a good channel too, but for me, it’s too personal. While each is a wonderful platform for expanding your network, they lack the personal touches that are so important in a business or personal relationship. The key is to stand out by making your communications personal with them. Share articles and stories you believe will be of interest with them. Comment or engage in an interesting post. All of these activities will help separate you from everyone else.
And when you see a job posting or are ready to ask for an informational interview, you’ll already have been engaging with this person. Trust me, this is a huge advantage during the interview process.
Finally, in this world of instant communications don’t forget about the value and significance of writing a personal note after an interview. A thank you letter sent through the mail gets noticed. It is far more valuable than an email.