WIRED WORLD – Networking right

Here are eight tips on how to social network online:- Just when you master the art of handing out your business card, along comes social networking online -another way to make connections. Online communities help you make connections for business, dating or personal interests. Specifics vary, but they generally work as follows:

A friend or contact invites you to join the service. You may also join by visiting the site and signing up on your own. ? You create a profile describing yourself and your interests.

You connect to the networks of your friends or colleagues and expand your own network via message boards, blogs and connecting to members with similar interests.

By joining, you can join only by an invitation from someone you know or someone with interests similar to yours. You could easily be connected to a network of hundreds of people within seconds of joining. An easy way to find job leads, right

Well, not so fast. Avoid these gaffes As you would expect, newfangled ways to network also mean plenty of chances for faux pas and breaches of etiquette. To help you navigate the new world of social networking, heed these seven tips: Choose your flavour Do not jump at every offer to join a social networking service. Some focus on dating, a few on professional interests while others may mix business and pleasure. Understand site culture Social networking sites can be like high school, with arcane social customs and rules. Before contacting the colleagues of the friend who invited you to the site, get to know the site’s culture. Hone your profile Even social networking spots devoted to fun can lead to career connections. Make sure your profile does not include anything you would not want a would-be boss to see. This is especially true if you are using a site primarily for professional purposes. "Potential employers may check out your profile and for an opinion based on what they see and read," according to a Tickle spokeswoman. "Tailor your profile to what an employer would want to see in a potential employee." Do not be pushy Many members of social networking groups have had bad experiences with pushy types. "Be sensitive to other peoples’ networks," says Jenna Gausman, a career counsellor with Kerwin and Associates. "Do not be overly aggressive in trying to ‘get in’ the network of others. A person who is too persistent can be annoying." Speak your mind To preserve your reputation, keep your promises when offering to facilitate a personal introduction or find a phone number. "You must follow through," says Gausman. And if you express interest in another person’s help, be sure to follow up on the person’s assistance. "They are giving up a piece of their network, and their reputation is now on the line, so to speak," Gausman says. "At least reach out to that person." Face-to-face Just because your network is developed online does not mean relationships remain there. Social networking sites often connect people offline through individual meetings or group events. Career coach Lynn Berger recommends a brief, prepared introduction for group events. "This way, the individual does not fumble around and miss the opportunity to make a good impression," she says.