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I went on "The Patt Morrison Show" today, joining Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute to discuss the good December 2011 jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We spent some time talking about how to go about looking for a job, in industry where there's hiring happening — such as sales and technology.
Networking is essential. But you have a lot of networking options these days. You probably don't want to neglect any of them. Good old-fashioned "pressing the flesh," making sure you talk to friends and professional contacts, still makes sense. But taking advantage of social networking can also connect job-seekers with employers.
LinkedIn — the business-oriented social network that staged an IPO in 2011 — has become an extremely useful in this respect. It's optimized to present candidates to HR folks who like to see references, resumes, and take a gander at the kinds of connections that prospective employees have developed.
Perhaps even better, however, is the extensive range of discussion groups that are active on LinkedIn. They aren't all perfect — some involve lots people trying to sell their services — but you can work your way into some that provide the best online networking opportunity of all: the chance to exchange ideas and experiences with folks in your field.
I wouldn't call out LinkedIn in this context if I didn't think it was worth it. But when it comes to real networking, in the business sense, in stands out.