Career Center Blog

December 3, 2012

How much networking is too much on LinkedIn?


The ultimate goal of networking, as every job seeker knows, is to increase your odds of connecting with someone who can help move your career forward. For some, that means acting like a marketer and getting your brand in front of as many quality eyeballs as possible. While this certainly can make you well known in your industry, it might not be the kind of attention you want.

In their new book, Find a Job Through Social Networking, career management consultants and social media experts Diane Crompton and Ellen Sautter say that effective networking is like multimedia advertising. "Placing an advertisement once is usually not sufficient," they explain. "Media campaigns involve repeated placements of ads over time and often in multiple media sources, such as newspapers, magazines, websites and maybe even television or radio."

One way to secure this kind of broad reach in your networking, Crompton and Sautter say, is to add the URL for your LinkedIn account and your Twitter handle to your resume, email signature and business cards. "Not only will this strategy point people to a place where they can quickly learn more about you, it also helps you establish yourself as a professional who is savvy about online networking," they wrote.

However, they also caution against an all-out media blitz that can end up backfiring, especially if there is not enough customization in your message. For instance, when you invite people to join your LinkedIn network, be sure to never use the standard introduction — "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn" — which the site automatically includes as a default.

"Sending this canned note is a sure sign that you didn't take the time or care enough to personalize the invitation to remind the invitees who you are and how they know you," say the authors. "Such a message may even be viewed as spam by some LinkedIn members." Instead, make sure you write your own note explaining how you met and why you want to be part of their network.

Another popular method of interacting with high-ranking and like-minded individuals is to join one of the hundreds of LinkedIn groups that focus on a specific topic, company or industry. "Depending on the protocols of each group, you'll most likely be able to communicate with your fellow group members through direct messages to individual members or the entire group by posting questions or comments for group discussion and response," say Crompton and Sautter.

But be careful: these groups, too, can turn sour. I recall working with one client that wanted to promote a conference to as many people as possible and heavily used LinkedIn's InMail feature to market a conference that the company was hosting. By carpet-mailing every applicable LinkedIn group they could find, the client did find hundreds of new contacts, but their tactics also drew the ire from some members who complained about the barrage of unfocused marketing. Some groups even banned the client from contacting their members via InMail or discussion forums and threatened to kick them out of the group if they continued.

Like all networking tools, LinkedIn and Twitter can be fabulously efficient ways for job seekers to connect with potential hiring managers, but they can also be fraught with danger if the privilege is abused. As long as you base your communication on helping others first before expecting help in return, you can avoid these common social media pitfalls.

Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

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Hi, Randy.

Thank you so much for featuring our book (Find A Job through Social Networking) in your recent blog post! My co-author Diane Crompton and I appreciate it so much! Let's connect on LinkedIn. I'll send you an invitation.

Ellen Sautter
Senior Consultant - Right Management
Co-Author: Seven Days to Online Networking and Find A Job through Social Networking

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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