I went through an interesting blog ‘The pros of social networking and career management‘, which talks about leveraging social networking for enhancing and managing your career well. The case study in the blog gives the advantage of using social networking (in this case, LinkedIn) to find a suitable job. Here is a sample of the approach in the case study:
Person A diligently carved out time to spend networking online – typically in the early mornings and late afternoons so that time during business hours could be spent focusing on “live” meetings. All of these activities ensured that Person A’s name and profile appeared in the LinkedIn homepage network updates frequently, grew their network substantially, increased their visibility and credibility, and helped to solidify the professional brand that Person A had created.
I do not necessarily agree to this approach to career management, though this is certainly one approach. Notice that the attempt to network socially in this case is squarely to enhance the ‘online reputation’ and ‘sellability’ rather than networking. Getting a good job is a by-product of networking, not the primary goal. And if it becomes primary goal, very soon you will be exposed as a scheming person, and an unreliable one. So if you want to use it, use it with care.
On the other hand, using social networking techniques to cultivate new networks and friendships which are otherwise hard to maintain (friends you met in industry forums, long-lost classmates, ex-collegues), is a great tool for staying connected with the industry and with opportunities.