LinkedIn, the professional networking site that's 100 million members strong, recently released a study showing that men are savvier online professional networkers than women. LinkedIn defined savviness in terms of the number of connections men have and the ratio of male members on LinkedIn to female members. Even female dominated fields like the cosmetics industry for example, show that men are savvier networkers than women. There are more female professionals in the cosmetics industry than men and yet males have the largest networks and send more invitations than the women in that industry.
Why are females, who make up a larger part of the workforce than men, engaging less in professional networking online? Women in particular might see strategic networking as schmoozing or being opportunistic. Sending blind invitations or mapping out new contacts can feel overly calculated, and therefore bogus or insincere to many of us.
But the truth is that online networking can be the equivalent of career insurance, opening up your options and keeping you resilient in the face of job changes. For women in particular, who make up a minimum of the world's leaders, we need to use every tool at our disposal to change leadership ratios.
Whether you're temporarily out of the workforce or just landed a new job, you can maintain your online image keeping the following in mind:
1. Create your own positive Google content: A LinkedIn profile detailing your work history and education should be one of the first things that prospective employers see when they search for you online. You can and should make your professional profile even more competitive by requesting endorsements from employers and coworkers, which have considerable sway with recruiters. If landing jobs today is indeed all about distinguishing yourself from other candidates, there's no excuse not to invest time in creating a profile and making sure it shines. Understand that having an online presence has become the standard across industries; visibility matters.
2. Keep the flame lit with former coworkers and bosses: Professional networking sites allow you to stay linked to past employers and colleagues. This is important for two reasons: this group is the most likely to go to bat for you in the future, referring you to jobs and vouching for you, as they've witnessed both your character and your competence. Secondly, it's all too easy to lose track of where former coworkers have gone. Networking sites allow you to see where they've gone, helping you to continue to benefit from these relationships, not to mention your connections' connections.
3. Realize that currency matters: Regardless of our age or level, we'll make ourselves more competitive job candidates if we keep up with our industry's marketplace. A mom who's off-ramped from the workplace for a period can learn about news, resources and advances in her field without ever leaving her house. Networking sites facilitate you interacting with others regarding news, allowing you to demonstrate your own expertise through industry questions and answers, all without a big time commitment. Our fields are constantly changing, with new forces pressing against and shaping them. Show that you're connected and know what's going on.
If you're naturally more introverted or just feel intimidated by networking in person, online networking can fill the void. Start experimenting by researching people before a meeting, joining an online group, recommending top performers at your past companies, or sharing relevant articles. Take ownership over your online brand and see it in a long-range kind of way. Ask yourself, "What key message do I want to convey?" Realize that we drastically increase our options from a job perspective when we have a strong, viable network. Ladies, leverage this tool to your greatest personal benefit!
Enter your email address below to subscribe to our Next Gen Women blog.