Personal Finance
Networking online works
February 26, 2001: 10:47 a.m. ET

Head to the Internet for the latest technique in networking
By Peter Weddle
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Countless surveys have confirmed that networking is one of the most powerful tools for finding a new or better job. But networking takes time and can be terribly inefficient, especially when it's practiced the old fashioned way.

How can you take advantage of this technique and still do all the other things involved in a successful job search? Try eNetworking on the Intenet.

As in the real world, networking online or eNetworking involves interacting with other people who may be able to connect you with an employment opportunity.

Traditional networking, however, is all about "who you know." It's a one-on-one process that typically unfolds in face-to-face meetings and through telephone calls. If you're lucky, one person will know someone else who will, in turn, know another person who will have a lead on just the job you want.

eNetworking, on the other hand, is not about "who you know," but rather "who knows you." graphic

The trick is to use the mass one-to-one communications capability of the Internet to increase dramatically the number of people who know about you and your occupational credentials.

Click here for Peter Weddle's last column on "Keeping your career on track."

Tapping in

eNetworking enables you to tap the advice and knowledge of hundreds, even thousands of others and put it all to work in your job search.

How do you do that? By joining and participating in online discussion groups.

Members of these groups communicate with one another by e-mail. Thanks to the accessibility and reach of the Internet, they chat whenever and wherever they want and exchange views and ideas with people who live in their own hometown, across the country and around the world.

And best of all, while some of the groups do have membership requirements, using their eNetworking capabilities is usually free once those requirements have been satisfied.

There is a rich array of such eNetworking areas online. They include:

         bulletin boards at the Web-sites of alumni organizations, professional societies and trade groups. Many universities and associations are now sponsoring these forums as a benefit of membership. If your classmate is the new CEO of the leading company in your industry, this may be a good way to connect with her.

         discussion boards at virtual communities, such as Yahoo! GeoCities , Tripod, Angelfire and Xoom. These sites provide free e-mail, homepages and online conversation, but require that you complete a personal profile to join. That profile is then used to target marketing messages at you any time you're on the site.

         newsgroups or discussion forums where people who share a common interest or hobby can chat about it online. There are 90,000 of these areas covering topics ranging from archeology and astrology to zoology and playing the zither. The best directory of newsgroups is, which was recently acquired by the search engine Google but can still be accessed at

The five-step process

Although each of these eNetworking venues is unique, there is an etiquette of participation that applies to all of them. To make sure that you get off on the right foot, use the following five step process:

Step 1: Register honestly. Provide the information requested by the group or its moderator when joining. Although some groups allow anonymous participation, the best rule is to be open and frank about who you are and how you hope to benefit from the group.

Step 2: Wait a bit. Gauge the culture of the group before you leap into the conversation. Are members formal or informal when addressing one another? How do they handle disagreements? Do they tolerate profanity and slang or are they more circumspect?

Step 3: Begin slowly. Start by introducing yourself. Make a comment or two and then evaluate the group's response. If necessary, adjust the tone or style of your messages (not your point of view) so that the group is comfortable with you.

Step 4. Participate regularly. As with networking in the real world, one should give in order to receive online. Encourage your fellow eNetworkers to help you by giving them the benefit of your experience and expertise.

Step 5: Take personal conversations outside. If you do receive a tip or an offer of assistance, carry on any ensuing conversation outside the group so that your personal affairs don't interfere with the on-going dialogue of the group.

eNetworking can put you in touch with many more people than ever before to help you find a new or better job. As with traditional networking, however, it takes commitment and effort to be effective. As the word itself clearly indicates, the key to success is netWORK, for that is the only way to increase the number of people who know and want to help you.

Peter Weddle is one of the nation's leading experts in online job searching. He has written numerous books, including "Career Fitness" and "CliffsNotes: Finding a Job on the Web." For more information, please visit his site at graphic

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