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Want to network like a pro? UM Alumna Jessica Kaufman has some advice to help you get started. 

Networking 101: A simple guide to getting a job and expanding your network through social media.

Social media is the interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.  Examples include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  As of May 2013, 72% of online adults use social networking sites.  98% of 18-24 year olds are already using social media. The variety of uses for social media include: dating, staying in touch with friends, buying items, keeping up-to-date on current news and finding a new job through networking. 

It used to be a lot harder to find out information regarding a company and who you know that is connected to a place you are looking to find a new job or network with people in a certain industry.  Social media has made it a lot easier to network.  Now that most everybody has access to a computer or a device that connects directly to the worldwide web, there has been a change in the way people do things.  We no longer need to meet somebody in person to do an interview.  We no longer need to meet in person to speak with friends from around the world.  We no longer need to meet somebody at a bar to get a date.  Nowadays, we use networking tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and even the University of Michigan Alumni Group to help facilitate the uses we used to do in person.

STEP 1: DEVELOP A MEDIA PRESENCE

Create an online profile.  As your profile is your “advertisement” of yourself, make sure to fill out any information accurately and with the most current up-to-date information.  It is important to have a professional headline, solid recommendations and update your status to better inform your connections what you have been up to.  Remember, you want to be proud of your profile so proof it before you post it!

What should you include in your profile?  Anything that reflects what your goals are.  For example, if you are looking to get a new job within a certain industry, show your experience in the industry and streamline the language to read like a job description of someone who might be hiring for that particular job you are aspire to get.  DON’T POST ANYTHING THAT YOU WOULD BE EMBARRASED BY YOUR FAMILY OR EMPLOYERS TO Employers google and check out your social profile online!!!

Keep in mind employer’s google you before they hire you to make sure your behavior reflects them as a brand.  There have been numerous people who have lost their jobs because of posts and articles they have on the internet during their “off” time; and have lost jobs as a result of these messages not being in line with their companies.  Your profile should reflect who you are and what your personality is, but REMEMBER: YOU ARE AN EXTENSION OF THE BRAND!!!

STEP 2: LIST YOUR GOALS.

Decide what you are trying to do with your social media profile.  Are you trying to expand your network to get more business, are you trying to get a new job or perhaps are you trying to make new friends?  Well, your profile is a reflection of who you are.  It should also reflect what you are trying to do.  Make sure if you are looking for new business contacts that your profile is completely filled out with great recent testimonials from colleagues, professors, clients of your talent.  If you are looking to expand your business contacts to create new business for yourself, check out what companies and contacts your friends and friends of friends are connected with. 

After all, it is better to make a soft introduction than a hard introduction.  Are you asking yourself, what is she talking about?  A hard introduction is akin to a cold call.  Whether you are emailing or calling somebody that you do not know and do not have a connection with.  A soft call is connecting through a friend or somebody who you are familiar with who is associated with that individual or company.

Getting in touch with the right people at a company or industry is easier to obtain through networking through soft connections.  This allows your resume to be pushed above others who make not have that connection and makes the company feel more comfortable working with you as a result of this mutual connection.  Otherwise, your resume will just sit at the bottom of the pile internet oblivion and they will never even get to your resume before they hire somebody who has been pre-qualified to work with them as a result of their networking skills. 

STEP 3: EXPAND YOUR NETWORK THROUGH YOUR SOI

Networking is the best way to get your name out there.  How do you make that connection? 

Start with your sphere of influence (SOI) including friends, family, colleagues and Alma Matters.  Let them know what you are in the market for (job, expanding business contacts, etc.) and ask them if they know anybody who may be able to help.  After all, a “referral is the greatest compliment.” 

Figure out who you know that works at certain companies or industries that you are looking to bet in touch with.  Remember; LET YOUR NETWORK WORK FOR YOU!

                  A. See what friends you have that are on linked in, Facebook and Twitter

                  B. See who your friends are connected with

                  C. See what companies your friends and friends of friends are connected with

If you are looking for a job in an industry that you don’t know anyone in, reaching out to alum can be a quick way to get an introduction to somebody who is or knows someone who is

STEP 4:  CREATE ELEVATOR SPEECH

Create your own elevator speech.  Are you asking yourself what is that?  Well, it’s a 30 second speech that describes who you are, what you do or want to do and what you are asking for all within 30 seconds.  You should be able to summarize all this within this time frame, because if you can’t summarize who you are and what you do and want within this time frame then nobody else would.  You can use somebody else’s that you respect, but make it personal to you.  In addition, everybody is extremely busy with their own lives as have a limited amount of “free time” to help and to speak with you.  Make sure you know your elevator speech inside and out!   You want to make sure that you are comfortable with what you are saying so when the time comes and you randomly meet the perfect person to help you—you won’t fumble.  Try practicing with a friends or family who can give you constructive feedback.

STEP 5: NETWORK

When you meet the person DON’T ASK FOR A JOB!  But, you can ask for friendly advice about working in the industry, working for that company or working with certain people.  You are just looking for information.  People love to talk about themselves and what they do.  So perhaps try and meet them for coffee, speak on the phone, or introduce yourself at a party.  Keep the meetings short and to the point as they are busy too.  Don’t forget to thank them for their time and keep them updated with any results from their personal efforts on your behalf.  

Jessica Kaufman is Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker in New York City helping buyers, sellers, renters, landlords and investors in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.  She is an alum of the University of Michigan with a B.A. Psychology.  She has navigated a successful accounting career from doing public auditing to private accounting to now working in the residential real estate industry.  She uses Facebook, E-Newsletters, Direct Mail and Linkedin to keep connected with her sphere of influence (SOI), past, current and to get future clients.  She uses these social media outlets to expand her network (SOI), and provide current and up-to-date market information and any fun happenings in the New York area. 

For any questions about the New York City real estate market, or networking ideas, please contact Jessica today.  She can be reached at jlkaufma@umich.edu