Non-awkward networking is pretty hard to master. From tips on small talk to making the most of that power lunch, there are just a lot of moving parts — and so, so many questions. How soon is too soon to follow up with a new connection? What questions should I be asking? Is it better to have a huge network of loose connections or a small network of really strong ones? If you’ve ever asked yourself that last one, you’re definitely not alone, and the researchers at Facebook want to help you out with tips for how to network. But the thing is, you can’t just have one or the other — you’re gonna need both.
In a new, forthcoming study, Facebook wanted to figure out what types of networking connections lead to more job opportunities. They used US data from employment info and friendships on people’s Facebook profiles. The researchers looked at people who interacted a lot on Facebook — writing on each other’s walls, tagging each other in photos and having mutual friends — and then at when people posted their employment start dates. So, if person A starts and a company and a year or so later, person B starts at the same company, there’s a good chance person A referred person B to the opportunity.
But who’s more likely to get you a job: someone you interact with often on Facebook or someone who’s mostly just an acquaintance? Well, it’s complicated. The researchers found two seemingly contradictory answers: One is that most people find a job through weaker connections, and the other is that stronger connections are more likely to result in a job opportunity. Wait, what?
“How is this possible?” Facebook writes in their study. “Well, weak ties are important collectively because of their quantity, but strong ties are important individually because of their quality.” Huh! So, the takeaway is that it’s important to keep your options open. Network as much and as widely as possible, but you should also make sure you’re honing in on connections where you see the most potential.
And since we all know networking is moving more and more into the digital realm, Facebook is a great way to make those connections. With that in mind, the awesome people at Facebook shared some super helpful tips with us to get the most out of your social networking.
1. Make sure your profile reflects what you’re about. It’s no secret that potential employers are definitely searching your name on Facebook. Make sure they don’t find any dealbreakers — and that your personality shines through a bit! “Make sure your profile is clean, review privacy settings and use the “View As” feature,” Facebook tells us. “Update audience settings to “public” for work and education info, so acquaintances, recruiters and potential employers can find you. Add an intro that lets you set a 101-character bio, and select up to five public featured photos that highlight your personality.”
2. Pick strategic cover and profile photos. If you’re using Facebook to network (and let’s face it, you should be), you’re probably gonna want to ditch that spring break profile picture. But that doesn’t mean you need a boring headshot either. It’s about finding the right balance. “First impressions make a world of a difference. Your cover and profile photos are prime real estate on your profile, so keep it appropriate but also true to who you are.”
3. Take a good look at your other photos too. You have complete control over your profile picture, but you can’t always control when you’ll be tagged in a silly photo you wouldn’t necessarily want a potential employer to see. Adjusting which photos are public and which are just for friends is a good way to fix that problem. “Just because you had to document your wild college nights amongst friends doesn’t mean your budding professional network needs to be privy. No need to delete photos or albums, just adjust audience settings,” Facebook tells us.
4. You are what you like. You never know how you’re going to connect with someone. Maybe you like the same band or have the same favorite restaurant — and what better way to sum up these interests than your likes on Facebook? But it’s important to make sure they’re up to date: “Chances are you’ve been on Facebook for at least the last five years, and some of the Pages you like might not be the ones you connect with you now. Manage the Pages you like in the ‘about’ section so your likes are appropriate, professional and a reflection of you and your interests.”
5. Find your people. There are tons of groups out there for people just like YOU — people who have the same career interests, work in the same niche field or are killin’ it in the field you want to break into. “Search Facebook for groups relevant to your industry or interests and see which ones your friends in similar fields have joined. Share an applicable article or two to start some dialogue with members or pose a question directly.”
6. Reach out individually too. If you see someone posting things relevant to your career or come across an executive at a company you’re interested in, send them a message! What’s the worst that could happen? “The beauty of Facebook’s 1.5 billion+ network is that it’s yours, too. Don’t be shy about reaching out to those who can assist, answer questions and make further introductions.”
How do YOU network on Facebook? Share your tips with us on Twitter @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)