Your PALs are:
- Your Professional association or society
- The Alumni association of your undergraduate and, if appropriate, graduate school
- A LinkedIn group that focuses on your profession, industry or both
In order to wring the best results from these sites, however, it’s important to remember your goal. You’re investing your time and effort for just two reasons: first, to help you find a great employment opportunity and second, to help ensure you’re selected for it. And, to accomplish those two objectives, you have to practice the Golden Rule of Networking whenever you visit those sites.
A Better Way to Network
As with networking at conferences and meetings in the real world, networking online involves more than just showing up. The word says exactly what it means. It’s netWORK, not net-sit-back-and-have-a-pina-colada. You have to participate in the conversations your peers are having – the discussion forums, chats and listservs – that are underway at the PALs.
No less important, you have to participate in the right way. The Golden Rule of Networking is as simple as it is profound. You have to give as good as you get. In other words, if you want people to be helpful to you, you have to be helpful to them first.
How does that typically occur? Unlike job seeker discussion groups, the dialogue at the PALs is typically about profession or industry-related trends, issues, work problems and opportunities. You network, therefore, by contributing your occupational expertise and experience so that your peers can use it to their advantage. You share your talent with them and, in the process, you both build up the stature of your occupational brand and encourage others to be helpful to you.
There are only so many hours in the day, and you have only so much energy for networking. Given those constraints, it’s important that you network at the right places and in the right way. While online job seeker groups can provide a measure of psychological or emotional support, the peer discussion forums, chats and listservs of your PALs are the most productive spots for networking, and the Golden Rule of Networking is the key to your success there.