Not ANOTHER Facebook Change! But Wait, Networking is Easier than Ever

As Facebook Graph Search begins to roll out, and more Facebook users gain access to the new search tool, Graph Search is creating quite the buzz.  Why?  This new feature, allows users to easily search for people in their Facebook network based on any profile information: name, gender, age range, work and education, likes and interest, places they’ve been, their relationships and family, and even their photos.

Although Graph Search may seem to make things a little too personal at first, and you may think to yourself, “Hey! I just got used to the last change Facebook made, and now I have to adapt to another?,” it’s important to understand that the addition of Graph Search will continue to blur the lines between your professional and personal networks.  If you’re still hesitant to mix the two, you could be missing out on a valuable networking tool.   For some perspective, think of all your connections on LinkedIn.  Then think of all your friends on Facebook.  Chances are, after you add your number of Facebook friends to your number of LinkedIn connections, your network of contacts doubles, if not triples.  Next, think about how Graph Search gives you access to both friends of friends and a large portion of the Facebook public network, and in a matter of seconds, your network has grown exponentially.  Before Graph Search, you may have never known that a friend worked at a specific company or within a particular industry that you were interested in.  Now, Graph Search will help you become aware of all these potential leads, which will allow you to forge connections and search for opportunities in a new and exciting way.

So as a professional, how can you best use Graph Search to your advantage?

First, check your privacy settings.  To ensure hiring managers and recruiters outside of your network can find you when they’re running a search, make sure your basic information and employment history is set to ‘Public’, not ‘Private’.  If you want them to be able to contact you, double check that under your ‘who can contact me settings’ that you have Basic Filtering checked off.  This will allow both friends and people you may know (recruiters, hiring managers, etc.) to contact you.

On the other hand, if you don’t want potential or future employers looking at the picture you were tagged in last weekend, or your rant about who went home on The Bachelorette, make sure only friends can see your pictures and your posts.  However, it is important to note that if you are building your personal brand online, and want people to see your industry insight and activity, you should allow all your future posts to be seen by the public network – just make sure they’re all appropriate!  If you need to, you can review your past posts, and limit who can see them.

Once you have configured your privacy settings, you will be ready to start using Graph Search as your newest go-to networking tool.  To do this:

  • Tailor and review your profile: Whether you’re interested in or applying for jobs within a specific industry, tailor your profile to reflect that by joining relevant groups, liking relevant interests, and updating your employment history to highlight your experience.   To be thorough in your due diligence, you can actually see what your profile will look like to a) the public network or b) a specific person.  When reviewing your profile, evaluate it from the perspective of an employer.  If you were an employer, would you contact someone with your profile information for employment opportunities?
  • Find hidden connections:  Graph Search allows you to find job leads through an extensive network of new connections.  To find these potential leads, all you have to do is know the right phrase to type into the search bar.  Some helpful things you can search for include:
    • Friends and friends of friends by their occupation, where they work, where they used to work, and what they like (interests, pages, etc.).
    • People who went to your school and when they graduated – Most people will be willing to help out fellow alumni!
    • Employers of friends – This can be especially helpful if you’re interested in seeing where your friends may have some pull.
    • Friends or friends of friends who work in a certain location – Recently moved or looking to relocate?  This search can help you plant your roots.
    • Target specific companies: If you know your dream job involves working for a specific organization, you can search for “people who work at company x.”  You can get even more granular and search for “people who work at company x as a recruiter” or “people who work at company x as (insert position name)” if you want to reach out to the appropriate people directly or see if you have a mutual friend who can refer you.
    • Connect with recruiters: Executive recruiters are a great job searching resource.  They often work with a variety of clients and have access to a wealth of different opportunities.  You can find them through Graph Search by searching “People who work as recruiters in (insert desired city)”.

Once you figure out who you want to connect with, don’t be afraid to reach out!  When composing your message, first mention how you two share something in common (mutual friend, interest, group, etc.).  After you establish some common ground, briefly mention who you are and why you are interested in forming a connection and hearing their insight.  Always be tactful and considerate, respect their time, and most importantly, remember that networking is a two way street and offer to reciprocate.