It's a basic truth that people do business - and hire - people they know and trust. Now that social networking sites have firmly planted themselves in the job search landscape, you can use these tools to become known and trusted by significantly more people. Best of all, if you're an introvert, you can do so while capitalizing on your introverted strengths.
Use social networking to…
…become informed. Find discussions pertaining to your industry, company, or occupation.
Stay up to date on the "3 Ts" - Trends, Technology, Top Leaders. What's going on in your field, what's changing, who are the thought leaders and what are they saying? Arrange for introductions to talk with people who can provide information about a particular company, individual, job, or industry that will be helpful for you to know about.
Use features such as Groups and Answers on LinkedIn; Company Pages on Facebook; Search and Find People on Twitter; and blogs. Learning about companies or individuals in depth will play to your strengths, if you're an introvert.
You are a much more attractive candidate for employers if they recognize that your skills and knowledge are up to date and you can re-enter the game without missing a beat.
…become visible. By participating in discussions (e.g., in LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, company pages on Facebook, blogs) and sharing your expertise, more people come to know about you. And you can do so in the careful, measured way that introverts prefer.
You can put yourself back on the radar screen of all of your contacts with a simple status update on LinkedIn or a Tweet on Twitter, and do so in a way that showcases your professional skills and knowledge, rather than focusing on your need for a job. This is a simple and efficient way for those who are introverted or shy to stay in touch with a lot of people with a minimum of effort.
In addition, you can maintain your relationships on a regular basis simply by responding to the status updates of others - in just a few minutes, you can send a note of congratulations or acknowledgement of the accomplishments of others and nurture your relationships.
…become connected. As you reach out to more people, you increase the likelihood that you will know someone who will be in a position to help.
Social networking tools make the process much simpler for those who are introverted or shy. People are extending LinkedIn invitations almost as readily as they are exchanging business cards, and those who are on Twitter, by definition, welcome new followers.
Use these tools to expand your network and build relationships with new people who work in your industry, share your job title, or share your professional interests. Read what others are writing (e.g., LinkedIn status updates, Facebook sharing, Twitter tweets and links, blogs); share and/or comment on what you read.
Social networking tools allow you to use your introverted preferences to build and maintain relationships that allow you to become known and trusted as a skilled and knowledgeable professional, ready to make a solid contribution to your next employer.
Wendy Gelberg is a Career Navigator at JVS CareerSolution in Boston and author of The Successful Introvert: How to Enhance Your Job Search and Advance Your Career. She is a certified career coach and resume writer whose expertise is in helping people who are uncomfortable "tooting their own horn." Wendy writes resumes, gives workshops, coaches individuals, and writes articles and blogs on all aspects of the job search process. Samples of her resumes and career advice appear in over 20 books. Wendy has been a career coach and resume writer for over 15 years. She has been an introvert her whole life. Contact Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org.