Friday, March 18, 2011

Social Networks and Nonprofits: A Perfect Pair

I've already talked about how important networking is in getting into the nonprofit sector.  I didn't mention, however, that there are more ways to network other than just attending networking events.  Perhaps you have heard of this new thing called social networking.  Supposedly it's a big deal these days. 

Joking aside, using tools like Twitter and Facebook can really help you in your quest to start your career in the non profit sector.  Excuse the shameless self-promotion, but you probably already know of one Twitter account that can help you search for non profit jobs.  But besides this, social networking websites can be used to gain a better understanding of the company you are hoping to join.  While reading the "About Us" page on an NPOs official website may give you some knowledge of what the organization does, looking at their Facebook page will give you a better idea of the culture of the company.

As for the actual "networking," I would recommend (if you haven't already) immediately setting up a profile on LinkedIn.  This website is essentially the MySpace for professionals.  It allows you to post your job history, resume, and (most importantly) connect with other professionals.  You can also apply for jobs through LikedIn, and this is when the site really starts to pay off.  If you know someone who knows someone at a nonprofit you apply to on the site, you will be informed of this on the sidebar.  As we all know, connections are key to getting a job you want, so this is why I did most of my job searching through LinkedIn; it allowed me to see what potential connections I had at the compnies I applied to.

Of course, you cannot completely avoid regular networking.  Social networking should be used as a complement to, and not a replacement for, traditional networking.  An example of this delicate process would be using Twitter to connect with people going to a networking event.  One of the hardest parts of these events is not knowing anybody.  By using Twitter (or some other social networking site), you will have instant connections before you even get there, giving you a comfort zone.

What are your thoughts on social networking?  As always, we'd love to hear from you.

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