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By Jeff Greer
If you're unemployed, you need to become a salesperson. That doesn't mean that you have to get a job as one, but in a business world that's increasingly dominated by social media, mastering the ability to sell yourself in cyberspace has become one of the most important skills a worker can possess. And in an economy where people have gone months or even a year without work, what do you have to lose?
For younger folks who grew up in the age of
It's all about making the Net work for you.
Career and human resources experts say the same thing: Create your personal brand. Stay active. And don't just send out digital messages asking for jobs.
Starting is half the battle.
The first step, says career expert Brad Karsh, is getting past that fear of social media that many older users have. "Just start doing it," says Karsh, who is the founder and president of JobBound, a career consulting company, and the author of two job-search books.
Resources like LinkedIn, a professional networking site that claims more than 60 million users in some 200 countries and territories, give you a chance to put yourself out there without revealing too much personal information. Your profile space allows you to list your work experience, education background, and personal websites. It's an online résumé. And "connecting" with old colleagues, friends, and bosses can keep you fresh in their minds.
If you join Twitter, a less professionally oriented site, you can keep up with people -- including experts -- you never would have had access to in the past. You can pick and choose whom you "follow" and read their comments instantly as they post online. You can also post a running stream of your thoughts. It's a quick -- and addictive -- way to interact with a wide range of people and organizations, including companies and peers in your field.
Develop your brand.
Don't just use social media tools to ask people for jobs; be patient, and understand that organically developing online relationships takes time. Post interesting links to news relating to your field. E-mail contacts to update them on the things you're doing. Start a dialogue.
"Establish your footprint," says Jessica Lee, a senior employment manager for APCO Worldwide, a public relations firm in Washington, and a blogger and Twitter user who is well known among human resources professionals. "Add value to the content you are putting out there."
Don't throw out your Rolodex.
Making contacts the old-fashioned way -- simple face-to-face interaction -- still carries a lot of weight toward getting a job. But adding an Internet presence can expand your network and complement your in-person networking skills. You can meet only so many people at one event, but the possibilities for contacting people on the Internet are endless. You can search for old friends and colleagues or make new contacts and connect with them. But don't just send them an invitation to your network. Establish something firmer.
Then, follow up with a note or invite them to coffee, Karsh says. Referring to the automatic message that comes with an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, Karsh says to delete it and write your own. "Put in a personal note . . . people are more likely to accept that invitation. They're more likely to remember you."
In a harsh economic environment, where there are endless numbers of unemployed but skilled workers looking for their next job, understanding and taking advantage of social media tools can help you stand out and sell yourself. You can expand your network. You can meet new people. And who knows? Maybe you can find your way to a new job.
Available at Amazon.com:
Careers - The Art of Self-Marketing Online
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