How to: Start building your online professional network

So you’re online, you have a blog, friends on facebook, and send tweets everyone once in a while. Are any of these platforms helping you building a professional network? The beauty of the Internet is that we can easily be connected to millions of people. Why wouldn’t you use that to help your career? Here are a few tips for using social media to develop meaningful professional connections.

Twitter Chats

Most people don’t understand Twitter because they think it is all about broadcasting what you had for lunch. It can be hard to figure out the beneficial uses, so Twitter chats are a great place to start. Check out this Google Spreadsheet of over 100 chats on different topics that happen on a regular basis.

Observing a chat is a fast way to learn Twitter lingo, etiquette, and communication styles. In a matter of 5 minutes you will see replies, retweets, hashtags, short URLs…It can be overwhelming to participate, so take your time and watch how people interact. It’s also a great place to find people to follow and chat with. I find people that participate in Twitter chats are very welcoming and eager to offer a helping hand.

LinkedIn

You’ve had several jobs in the past and worked with many different people. You know them well offline, so why not make it official online? LinkedIn is the one site that I recommend everyone to be on. Even if you are not a “social media” person, it still makes sense to establish these connections.

Add your former employers, employees, and coworkers. Ask for recommendations from people you are close with. Join groups of organizations you belong to and ones that suit your interests. I have been emailed multiple times about jobs just because they saw my LinkedIn profile. It is much more powerful than a resume because you have real people endorsing you right on the page.

Brazen Careerist

If there is one professional network you should be on besides LinkedIn, it’s definitely Brazen Careerist. Joined the site after reading about it in an article, but I didn’t begin to use it until after I met a bunch of users (including co-founder Ryan Paugh) at a meetup at South By Southwest. I had a great time chatting with people there so I figured the network would be worth checking out again.

While LinkedIn is more about connecting with people you know, Brazen is about sharing your work experience and connecting with others. People are very open about asking questions, providing answers, and offering a helping hand. Extra props go out to Ryan Paugh, the community manager for Brazen. When I first started with Livefyre I came to Brazen for advice. He responded to my thread and reached out personally to help in any way. We are way overdue to reconnect, but the main point is that I know model my community management job after Ryan. His attentiveness and care for the community make all the difference and I want to do the same for Livefyre.

There are a few ways to get the most out of Brazen Careerist. First, beef up your profile with your resume, social connections and an About Me section. Then find and join networks of interest and fan people that you’d like to learn from. Your feed with then be a feed of awesome conversations about the topics you want to learn about. So go chime in and share your ideas!


There you have it: my crash-course in social media professional network building. This can keep you busy for a while and gives you great insight into the industry you’re exploring. Whether it’s agriculture or tech or the restaurant business, there are people out there, and now you know how to find and connect with them!