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