As a job seeker, you are constantly told to network, network, network. Social networking is HUGE- you need to connect with people, add people, tweet people and follow people to make as many connections as you can and establish yourself as a key figure in your chosen industry. This is true- social networking is necessary and a hugely important part of your ‘get a great job’ plan. But, is there a line? Can you ever network too much? Anna Pitts of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau brings you the five excessive social networking behaviours that get cyber alarm bells ringing.
1. Being cringey
When messaging your contacts or potential contacts on various social networking sites you of course need to be warm and friendly. You won’t get a very good response if you send blunt, cold and blatant messages to someone you are trying to impress or ask for help. Social networking is all about rapport building and a good cyber relationship is built on friendly (but professional!) foundations. But, over the top, horrifically chirpy messages will not be well received. If you haven’t already established the tone of your relationship (and you haven’t met them in person), then messages starting with ‘Hey/hiya’, featuring excessive ‘smiley’ emoticons or lots of enthusiastic exclamation marks are going to ring alarm bells. You need to strike a balance between professional yet approachable, especially in your first message, and ideally further correspondence. If the conversation naturally goes towards a more casual tone then adapt to suit the situation, but err on the side of professional when in doubt.
2. Being too speedy
Efficiency is something to be proud of in the business world but super-quick likes and shares of anything your contacts post is borderline freaky. If you are job hunting you may be on your computer a lot, and hence immediately aware of whenever anyone posts anything on social networking sites. But, just like when someone likes your new profile picture on Facebook within three seconds, people are inclined to think ‘weirdooo’ if they get a notification from you straight after a post. You should definitely like, comment or share their material, but within an appropriate time frame. People appreciate interaction, but leave at least half an hour before you admit you’ve seen it.
3. Being a stalker
There’s no denying that social networking is basically stalking but it isn’t really acceptable to make it obvious. You need to interact in moderation. As number 2 highlights, you need to be aware of timing, but you also need to consider quantity. If you like, comment or share everything they ever post, they may begin to get the wrong impression. Social networking needs to have an element of sincerity to it and the material you decide to acknowledge will show on your personal profile too. Therefore, you need to make sure you actually are aware of what you are sharing rather than just doing it automatically to get in someone’s good books. Also, they’ll clock on eventually, and just think you are super keen but desperate, or a bit of a weirdo.
4. Being too persistent
It’s a sad fact that the majority of your messages, especially introductory ones, will go unacknowledged. Send follow up messages after initial contacts, and chase up leads that might need a nudge, but if you are too persistent you will just push people further away. Wait at least a week between chase ups and keep the follow up emails short and sweet. They are probably busy and will get back to you eventually if you follow the social networking etiquette. If you hound them they will more than likely just block you.
5. Being too familiar
You probably do know most things about all your contacts from having established yourself in their social network- their last five positions of employment, GCSE grades, what they did at the weekend and their favourite food- but it would just be odd if they knew you knew it. When you are having a conversation with a contact keep the topic professional. Unless they (for some reason) mention something personal, do not bring it up. Phatic talk like ‘hope you had a nice weekend’ is fine, stalker talk is not; ‘How was your Grandma’s birthday on Sunday?’ If they knew you knew their dress size they’d run a mile- what they don’t know doesn’t hurt them, so stick to the business in hand and you’ll be fine.
Written by Anna Pitts, a Marketing Assistant and Online Researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. Her work involves PR and outreach and writing informative, interesting advice based articles for graduates and students. Follow her on twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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