From the Recruiter’s Desk: 8 Ways to Network Effectively Online

Lindsay Olson is a partner and recruiter with Paradigm Staffing (and PRNewser guest columnist). She specializes in helping companies and agencies find public relations and communications professionals throughout the United States. She has over ten years experience recruiting in the PR industry and also writes a career-related blog at You can find her on Twitter via @prjobs.

Her latest column seeks lays out “8 Ways to Network Effectively Online.”

The value of networking online will never replace face-to-face networking. Some things are better in-person and networking is definitely one of them. That said, online networking has its purpose and is a powerful tool that should be integrated into your overall strategy when it comes to expanding and nurturing your professional network.

Considering geographical boundaries, time constraints, and personal obligations, online networking tools can help you quickly build a network that may have taken you years to build, if ever, any other way.

When we network in person, non-verbal cues help us interact with the other individual. We rely on all of our senses to engage in conversation and form opinions about moving the conversation to further stages. In the online world, we simply don’t have as many sensory cues to rely on and, as a result, the game changes.

I do my fair share of online networking: LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook, and blog commenting are my main tools. I also participate in a number of online groups and forums.

Here are a few personal tips I’ve found work well for me when it comes to networking effectively online:

1. Write in a conversational tone. Especially online, people want to know you are a living, breathing person with a life and a sense of humor. Be yourself and let it come through in your online communication.

2. Fill out your online profiles fully so that the people know something about you. Take some time and keep your profiles regularly updated. When someone contacts me on Facebook or LinkedIN, I always check their profiles before responding to a request. People want to know who they are conversing with, and by giving the information upfront, your messages are more likely to get a response.

3. Give, give, give. “Give more than you get” is the general rule. People are much more willing to help someone who helps others. Answer LinkedIN Questions, retweet interesting information on Twitter, or post articles from others on Facebook. Give credit where credit is due.

4. Listen. Online networking isn’t just about spreading your message and pushing your personal agenda. Listen to what others are saying and participate in the conversation, even if it doesn’t align completely with your goals. Participation makes others remember you and value your opinion.

5. Show your face. Photos matter and make the experience more personal. Everybody wants to put a face with the name. A headshot works best. Your main profile photo should be just of you.

6. Be consistent. Regularly update your profiles with information – again, not just pitches about you, but also with information that will help and interest your network.

7. Meet your online connections in real world, whenever possible. Set a goal to meet at least X number of people from your online networks offline for lunch or coffee.

8. Connect with your offline connection in your online networks. As part of the follow-up process, make it a habit to connect in your online social networks to the people you meet offline.