Originally posted on Dummies.com, from his book Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies (2nd edition)

Don’t get bogged down in keeping up with the seeming constant changes of social media, just keep focused on your goals and how these tools can help you achieve them.

For people just beginning to use social media to advance their careers, a common complaint is that it changes so much. For example, they often cite the most recent Facebook privacy change or LinkedIn’s new user interface.

A good army general doesn’t get caught up in the trees; he sees the forest. Likewise, as commander of your own career, seeing the whole picture can free you from the irrelevant minutia that can so often distract your competition. It’s not which tools you use, but what you use the available tools to accomplish.

By using the four-part strategy summarized here, you will:

  • Avoid feeling overwhelmed by the technology.
  • Always have the tools you need to get a job.
  • Never feel like you are wasting your time online.
  • Be confident that you are proactively advancing your career.

This four-part strategy was adapted from many years of working with job seekers and interviewing coaches. Social-media tools will help you accomplish any of these four steps. Therefore, it hardly matters whether or not you’ve used Twitter to research people, LinkedIn to research issues, and Zoominfo to e-mail decision makers . . . or any combination.

  1. Research people: Start by knowing what kinds of people you want to find, such as info-interview sources and hiring managers.
  2. Research issues: From online sources, find out what these people care about, what issues concern them, what goals drive them, and what problem plague them.
  3. Interview for information: Guessing from online sources can only take you so far. Reach out to low-stakes contacts to ask one-on-one questions and build new and targeted relationships.
  4. Engage the decision maker: By now, you have enough information to know what a decision maker cares about. Let her know you exist by reaching out in a professionally assertive way, not assuming you’re the bread to her butter but still with the confidence of your research to back you up.

Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies, is recognized as one of the nation's top authorities in Social Media Career Advancement. To learn Joshua’s secret strategies for shortening the job search and getting the right job right away, Get The Missing Manual for LinkedIn Success

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