Imagine you are a busy hiring manager. Your recruiter staff doesn’t seem to give you any good candidates. So you go off on your own to do some research. Because you have no budget, you’ll probably end up on a social media site such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

You’ll stumble around for a little while until you find a profile that catches your eye. At this point, you’ll probably decide to reach out, test the waters, and see whether this candidate is interested in your open position.

If you are looking for a job in the small and medium size business market, this scenario probably happens more times than you think. Essentially, you are the fisherman, and the hiring people are the fish.

So how do you catch a big fish, i.e. how do you get an interested hiring manager to choose yours over all the other profiles? Yep, ergo the title of this post: a better hook.
Look at the roots of where social media comes from. Social media functions just like traditional media, by providing a publisher with channels to distribute a message. The difference is that in traditional media, if your message doesn’t have a compelling hook, no one would distribute it for you.

In social media, we are our own distribution, and this means most people are lazy when it comes to the formulation of their hook. They just blah blah blah all day long on their profiles and status updates without realizing that their message is having an impact. Every off-message post dilutes your personal brand.

Someone asked me today, “If you, the author of Job Searching With Social Media For Dummies, were looking for a job right now, what would you do?”

First, I need a hook. For me, I’m really good at generating buzz. I get people to talk – about any product or service. In my case, it was my book. For clients, it was their dog food and their kettlebells.

What is your hook? What is that one thing you are the best at, that people will want to hire you for? If you can’t tell me that instantly, then you have some work to do. And I don’t want you to touch social media until that work is done.

Next, I need to translate that hook into a compelling brand experience. Put a worm on the hook so that fish will want to bite. This means my picture should reflect my message. For me, if I’m good at buzz, then perhaps I’d lean forward in my picture, have my hands gesturing, or be in the middle of a sentence.

Then there’s the headline or bio. No, it’s not “I’m good at generating buzz.” The headline is not about you. It’s about them. When writing a For Dummies book, one editorial trick we used for all of the section titles was the gerundive form – a verbal adjective. This means using the –ing form of the verb, for example, “Getting customers to talk about your brand” or “Creating an unstoppable surge of buzz about your company.”

What is your headline or bio going to sound like? What are the elements you need your online images to have?

Finally, I would start engagement. Social media is all about relationship building. Cast your hook out there by starting conversations with companies that interest you. If I were a job seeker, the most important step would be following all of my target companies on all big three networks – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Each of these networks offers a unique way to engage. On Facebook, that’s probably going to look like commenting on a company’s posts. For LinkedIn, that could be inMails or asking for introductions. On Twitter, that might look like retweeting, replying and Direct Messaging.

The key to engagement is to be interesting by being interested. Show that you are listening to what your target companies are saying. After a short while, you’ll find your chance to interject, interrupt or contribute.

So to beat my fishing metaphor to death:
Get a hook: know what makes you different and memorable.
Put a worm on it: communicate a strong and compelling message online.
Cast it into the water: reach out to the companies you want to work for.