From Birthdays to Paydays: How to Network on Facebook

In professional and social networking, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. You may have hundreds or even thousands of contacts that you “know” across your online and offline networks. However, do they know you well enough and are they impressed enough by your personal brand and the value you have to offer to seek you out when there is a new need or opportunity?

While I have a respectably large network of connections on LinkedIn and followers on Twitter, I will be the first to admit that I don’t personally know all of them, and I can bet you money that many of them don’t know me or my personal brand enough, if at all, to directly pursue me for any new employment or business opportunities.

This is when I remember Facebook and the very valuable network of actual friends and contacts it offers. These are people who know me, worked with me, went to school with me, grew up with me and potentially knew my personal brand long before I did.

So how do I effectively keep track of and network with all of these friends on Facebook as my life and career increasingly take me physically and emotionally further away from them?

Birthdays! That’s the answer. This simple, yet bright idea came to me one day when I had this very question. How can I keep in touch with so many friends with whom I progressively lose touch each day?

I cannot possibly manage communications to and from each of them on a weekly or even monthly basis, especially when we haven’t seen or spoken to one another in years, may live in different parts of the country and/or have gone completely different directions in our careers and interests.

But I can connect with them using an annual prompt that Facebook generously provides. Birthdays! Each and every day, Facebook features the individual(s) within your network of friends whose birthday falls on that date. This is a quick and easy way for you to remember and identify a “lost” friend, reach out with a message and find out how they are and where they are in their life and career. Naturally, you should include a brief summary of your life and career to-date.

As I have done this myself, I have had amazing results with respect to rebuilding past friendships and reconnecting with people who really know me and my personal brand and who could become stakeholders in my current and future career.

Note: As you may have observed, when it’s your birthday, many of your distant friends and acquaintances suddenly pop up with messages on your Facebook wall. Thus, it is crucial to make your message stand out from the slough of others. This may be done by sending a lengthier, private message to the birthday boy or girl, or by making your public wall post more personable and more memorable than the standard “Happy Birthday” (yawn), or “Best wishes for a great day” (double yawn). However, “Yo, birthday buddy! Check out how talented and brimming with potential I am!” or “Does your company have any job opportunities?” would probably not be your best approach….

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