Monday, November 2, 2009

Of course Sarah Palin's on LinkedIn. You should be, too

The Huffington Post reported last week that former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin has posted her resume on LinkedIn.

I have to admit, I don't really see the point in the snark about this. For all I disagree with her politics, the former governor is super savvy when it comes to social networking. And smart women know the importance of social networking.

I've been trying to use Facebook solely for socializing, and LinkedIn solely for business, but I have to admit that it's become really difficult to keep things separate. For one thing, the line between work and the rest of your life gets blurry when you're friendly with your former colleagues. How can you refuse to ask your boss to be friends with you on Facebook when you're Facebook friends with your former supervisor -- who used to be his boss?

(I don't use MySpace at all. If LinkedIn is to Facebook as your business card is to a scrap of paper with your name and phone number scrawled on it, then MySpace is akin to writing your nickname on someone's arm with a magic marker. I don't really know yet where Twitter falls on the networking spectrum, but I use it and I like it -- for marketing, for meeting new contacts, for finding out what's going on.)

Regardless of which site you choose to use for networking, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1.) Don't post anything you wouldn't want to be asked about -- or held against you -- in an interview.

2.) Toot your own horn. It's not like a paper resume, where you're encouraged to keep the information to a single page. Take the opportunity to detail as much as you can, and go as far back into the past as is relevant -- you're not limited to your most-current experiences. Keep the language professional, but feel free to add your awards, accolades, and additional skills -- this is your chance to shine.

3.) Gather recommendations. On LinkedIn, recommendations are like those references you're supposed to provide upon request -- except that they've visible for all to see, all the time. On Facebook, create a fan page for your work, and ask your friends to join. You'd be surprised at how many people know -- and like -- what you do.

4.) If you have a professional blog, link to it. Think of it as a chance to show off your online portfolio. If you don't have a professional blog, link to examples of your work instead. Linking to your current company's website is fine, especially if it showcases some of your accomplishments. Linking to your family's online photo album is not.

5.) Direct people to your LinkedIn profile or Facebook page. Don't just use the default URL that came with your profile -- change it to something easily recognizable, like your name, and use it along with your signature at the bottom of emails.

What social networking sites to you use and why?

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