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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

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Image Online networking offers many opportunities if you are willing and committed, and should be part of your career change strategy, says Grace Owen

I don’t mean lunches or parties, but social networking. Meeting people face-to-face is essential, but online networking offers many opportunities if you are willing and committed, and it should be part of your career change strategy.

It has a broad reach and you can interact any time and anywhere. Don’t simply jump on the bandwagon though; think it through.

Your Online Identity

Be aware that everything you say online stays there, albeit in virtual form, forever! If your attempts so far have been haphazard, or there are unsavoury things about you on the web, remember that they can be accessed by anyone with basic technology skills, including savvy recruiters and HR people. Many organisations now use the internet to 'check out' potential employees.


Find out what kind of social networking profile you have, by Googling your name and carrying out an audit of all your social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter or You Tube. Learn the social basics from a tech-savvy friend or even get some coaching, so that you can build this in to your overall job hunting plan and set some specific targets for the next six months.

If there are unsavoury things about you on the web, remember that they can be accessed by anyone with basic technology skills, including savvy recruiters and HR people.

Look for People Not Jobs

I recently read that, ‘when you are job hunting, you are really people hunting’. In other words you are looking for ‘people who know people who know people who know people’ i.e. those who can open doors to potential work opportunities, connect you with someone you’d really like to meet, advise you or even become advocates for you.


Map out your networks, both personal and professional and connect to them online. Remember ‘netiquette’ applies; you wouldn’t give the hard sell to everyone at an event, so don’t do it online. You need to be willing to support others with help and advice as well as hoping to be introduced to their networks or be told about potential job opportunities.

Don’t be too social!

There are many sites out there. Here are the main ones:

  • Facebook is fairly informal, although you can have a business as well as a personal page.
  • Twitter offers you the opportunity to have conversations with many different people.
  • LinkedIn is considered to be the social networking site for people in business and has a more formal approach.
  • YouTube is all about sharing videos and 2 minutes video CVs are very popular. Make sure it is high quality though!


Identify a couple of social networking sites that are a 'good fit' for you and stick with them, rather than spreading your efforts too thinly. Figure out exactly what you are looking for and then create an authentic profile that presents you and your talents, skills and knowledge in the best possible way.

Local to Global

If you want to work abroad then online networking can connect you to anyone, anywhere. It is essential to be aware of any cultural norms, so that you interact appropriately. We really do live in a global village, so be careful what you say as online news (good or bad) can travel to the other side of the world before you can say ‘Give me a job!’


If you are seeking an international appointment build relationships with people who are already in the country, rather than at head office, as they may be able to influence the recruitment decisions being made centrally and invite you to apply.

Keeping the Momentum Going...

Effective social networking can help build your personal brand, essential when you are job hunting. When you are in a job, you can still use it to connect with different people, find out about events and opportunities and build your own platform. If you decide that social networking isn’t for you, then close the accounts.


Update your online profiles every three to six months to prevent them becoming out-of-date or to avoid conflicting information. Build in time each week to interact meaningful on the sites you have chosen.

You Need to Be On and Off

Remember that a combination of online and offline job hunting will bring you success. Visibility means being out and about creating rapport with people face-to-face as well as in front of your computer screen. Done well, it’s a winning formula.


Share any successes with your network and enjoy theirs. This creates a circle of trust, support, interest and celebration. Treat everyone you meet with respect and above all, enjoy it!

Grace Owen is a career coach, speaker and author of ‘The Career Itch – 4 Steps for Taking Control of What You Do Next’, £9.99 from Amazon and leading retailers. For over fifteen years, she has equipped hundreds of leaders, managers, professionals, freelancers and business owners to excel in their work. For more information visit www.grace-owen.com
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