|We hear it over and over again. It's not about what you know, but who you know. If you're like most people, you probably have at least 200 people in your rolodex. Having contacts is one thing. Making the most of those relationships is another challenge altogether.|
With busy schedules, effectively staying in touch with people and using connections to get doors opened is difficult. Just within the past few months, technology has been developed to meet these challenges and help people make the most of their social networks. This technology is appropriately called "social networking software."
Of course the most basic technology in this area is having an electronic address book. Microsoft Outlook is basically the industry standard program to use. After inputting your contacts in Outlook, you can synchronize with a personal digital assistant (like the Palm pilot). You can also use Outlook to interface with any of the major social networking applications out there, including all of the ones mentioned in this article.
Keeping in Touch
If you have 300 contacts in your address book but you only keep in touch with 40 of them on a regular basis, the remaining 260 contacts are in danger of going "stale." Think of what happens when you flip through your card file or rolodex and come across a contact you haven't heard from for a couple years. Unless you knew the person well, chances are you'll just throw out the card. You may not ever remember how you met them!
A social networking software program called RelationshipSecure was developed to address this specific problem. It provides several features that help you maintain your existing relationships and keep them from getting stale. It provides a verification feature that lets you send out e-mail mailings to your contacts asking them if their information is correct. If it isn't, they can make any changes necessary and your Outlook address book is updated automatically. It also lets you send out other mailings like Birthday and Anniversary e-greeting cards.
To find out more about RelationshipSecure, visit www.RelationshipSecure.com.
Expanding your Network
While RelationshipSecure is a powerful tool for maintaining your existing relationships, other companies have developed technology to help you expand your network of contacts. These concepts aren't mutually exclusive: in fact, it makes sense that you'd want to keep in touch with people so that the relationship won't have gone cold by the time you need to ask them for an introduction, a job, a meeting, etc.
LinkedIn.com is one of the most popular services for expanding your network by getting introduced to other people who can help you move ahead in your career. How it works is this: you enter your contacts' email addresses or import them from Outlook. LinkedIn then gives you a window into people your contacts know and depending on their privacy settings, the ability to contact people who may be able to help you. LinkedIn.com is most popular among executives and other high-level professionals because of the exclusive nature of their service and its powerful privacy features.
Ryze.com is another service similar to LinkedIn.com, but with fewer privacy controls. It is not as popular among executives but it's worth checking out, especially if you want to network with people who aren't in LinkedIn's demographic.
Reaching Recruiting Contacts
While these tools provide a powerful way for you to tap your existing networking resources, it may be the case that you have to reach out of your network to find someone who can help you. I recommend using a service like ResumeArrow.com to get your resume in front of recruiters and employers you wouldn't be able to reach otherwise.
About the Author
Scott Brown is the author of the Job Search Handbook (http://www.JobSearchHandbook.com). As editor of the HireSites.com weekly newsletter on job searching, Scott has written many articles on the subject. He wrote the Job Search Handbook to provide job seekers with a complete yet easy to use guide to finding a job effectively.
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