Create your own 'network effect'

When searching for a new job, it's easier than ever to get on the inside track.

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By Joe Light, Ismat Sarah Mangla and Pat Regnier

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NEW YORK (Money Magazine) -- Social networks like Facebook.com and LinkedIn.com might seem a little intimidating when you first try them. But if you build a profile and start connecting with people, you'll get in the swing.

And you'll be surprised at how much more effective than e-mail they can be for keeping up contacts.

LinkedIn is the more grown-up site. You create a profile page and then "connect" with other people you know to build a network. You can search among the people they know, and the people who know those people - the idea being that you'll not only see potential contacts, but you'll have a common connection who might introduce you.

Even if you're not a big networker, LinkedIn is useful in one respect: Your public profile page looks like a résumé. (Put your name in the Web address to be more easily found.)

But since a LinkedIn profile isn't an explicit signal that you're job hunting, notes Jason Alba, author of "I'm on LinkedIn - Now What?" it's not a disaster if your boss sees it. On the other hand, a recruiter might.

Another useful feature: the Answers section, where members ask and answer questions on business topics from how to start a corporate Wiki site to where to list education on your CV.

"You can build a relationship with someone by helping them get something done," says Scott Allen, who blogs at LinkedIntelligence.com. If you hand out lots of business cards - maybe you're a consultant, a salesperson or an entrepreneur - LinkedIn is worth a try.

Facebook, on the other hand, is the way to stay in touch with people you know. You create a personal Web page but limit access to it to your Facebook "friends."

A news feed lets you send short messages about what you're up to, and you can post videos, news items and book recommendations.

Facebook can be juvenile: When you make someone a friend, for example, you can check a box to tell the world that "we hooked up." (For the youth-impaired, this does not mean that you met for coffee once.)

But the clever thing about Facebook is that it's a low-intensity form of communication - you can send out a quick hello without contacting people individually.

One caution: Social networking can be addictive; lots of companies block access to Facebook. To top of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.