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Online Networking Dos & Don’ts

With summer at a close, it’s important to maintain the professional relationships you have built through internships and work experiences. Whether it’s your editor from your magazine internship or a CEO you chatted with in the elevator, nothing can squash an opportunity quicker than poor networking skills. Luckily, Her Campus is here to provide you with the Dos and Don’ts of digital networking, so that you can keep up with your connections long after you’ve stowed away your business-casual.

LinkedIn

DO send a personalized note if you decide to send your supervisor a request to add him/her to your network.
For example, a few lines such as “Thanks so much for a great internship experience this summer. I learned so much about [blank]. I’d love to connect on LinkedIn so I can stay in touch in the future” should suffice. Using the preset “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” is not acceptable here.

DON’T connect with anyone you don’t know or haven’t met in person.
Hearst Digital Media editor Tammy Tibbetts advises, “Never request to connect with someone you don’t know or didn’t help out in some capacity. If they couldn’t vouch for your skills, then you do not know them well enough.”

DON’T connect with a hook-up on LinkedIn.
Given that LinkedIn is a professional networking site, unless that hook-up has the potential to help you land your dream job in the future, you’re better off just sticking to Facebook for “stalking” (err…keeping tabs) on the guy. Since LinkedIn is about helping people make professional connections through others’ contacts, it isn’t the place to make that kind of “connection” public.


Twitter

DO be mindful of your tweets.
Much can be said within 140 characters, so be sure to choose wisely when sending your words into the Twitterverse. For example, if you start trash-talking to the cyber world about your professor’s weekly pop quizzes, don’t be surprised if that recommendation you need for next summer’s internship never arrives in your mailbox. You never know who is reading your words, and you definitely don’t want them to backfire on you later.

DO be a considerate tweeter.
Not only does clogging others’ twitter feeds with updates every time you brush your teeth or pour yourself a bowl of Lucky Charms become annoying, but it will likely deter potential employers from wanting to continue to follow you. You want to be known for your witty blog posts or passion for New York magazine—not for your favorite breakfast combinations.

DO use Twitter as a way to keep in touch with former colleagues.
If you find an interesting link or a blog post on the latest Apple product that you know a past tech buff coworker would love, tweet it to him/her. Not only will they appreciate the thought, but they’ll likely return the favor and keep you in mind when they happen to come across an interest of yours.

DO use proper grammar.
This includes punctuation and sentence structure. Keeping in mind that professionals are “following” you, please refrain from TyPiNg LiKe ThIs.

Facebook/MySpace

DO friend your fellow interns.
Not only can you keep each other posted on what’s going on in the office, but it’s a great way to keep in touch when your internship is over. Plus, it’s a great excuse to say “hi” to that Zac Efron lookalike you met at the copy machine.

DO keep your page clean and professional.
Your future employer could probably do without seeing photos of you slinging back Jell-O shots from last night’s party. Show your personality, but do it in an appropriate way. Even if you’re not friends with your employer on Facebook, you never know who could end up getting access to your page.

DO utilize the privacy settings available on Facebook.
Not sure what’s considered to be appropriate or not? Don’t risk it. Visit the “Privacy” settings on your Facebook to control who can search for you, what information they can see, and how they can contact you. By doing this, you can still network and allow professionals to get a glimpse into your world, but censor others aspects of your profile such as photos. In this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

DON’T friend your supervisor unless she suggests that you do so.
However, “Sometimes your direct boss is close to you in age, or is fairly casual, and so establishing that outside bond helps them get to know you better, which can eventually lead to a more interactive internship,” suggests Emily Freisher of Temple University ’10.

DON’T use Facebook as a tool for connecting with anyone in the field.
Tibbetts says, “I recently received a Facebook message from a girl who attends my alma mater, basically asking me if I knew of any jobs and could I pass her resume along, and this was totally unprofessional, since I don’t know her. She should have found my email address, written a thoughtful letter, and requested a brief informational interview. I am much more likely to take the time if you approach me wanting to learn how to develop your skills/develop your personal brand, than if you just want to learn ‘how to get a job.’”

Just remember that in any type of networking, be professional, be savvy, and most importantly, be yourself. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be on your way to your dream career! Happy networking!

Sources:
Emily Freisher, Student at Temple University
Tammy Tibbetts, editor at Hearst Digital Media
Lehigh University Career Solutions

Taylor Trudon (University of Connecticut ’11) is a journalism major originally from East Lyme, Connecticut. She is commentary editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Campus, a blogger for The Huffington Post and is a proud two-time 2009 and 2010 New York Women in Communications scholarship recipient. She has interned at Seventeen and O, The Oprah Magazine. After college, Taylor aspires to pursue a career in magazine journalism while living in New York City. When she's not in her media bubble, she enjoys making homemade guacamole, quoting John Hughes movies and shamelessly reading the Weddings/Celebrations section of The New York Times on Sundays (with coffee, of course).
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