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3 Simple Ways to Network Effectively on Social Media

When you're at a networking event, does your heart start racing when it's time to introduce yourself to complete strangers? Don’t worry, you're not alone. Thankfully, there's a neat little networking tool called social media that enables you to, literally, make connections from the comfort of your own home. So, leave on those pajamas, don't bother brushing your hair, and simply turn on your computer ... it's time to schmooze, people!

If you simply can't muster up the energy or nerve to network face-to-face, then PayScale encourages you to consider using these three simple ways to expand your professional connections through social media:

1. Dig up the Past

Use social media to seek out former employers, colleagues you've lost touch with, and any other contacts. Reaching out to professionals that you've simply lost touch with over the years is a great way to tap into resources to help you achieve your career goals -- finding a job or advancing in your career. LinkedIn is a great way to locate and connect with professionals and companies, because it is a social networking platform specifically developed for businessmen and -women to enhance their careers. The professional setting of LinkedIn discourages users from posting content that may be inappropriate, which is all too common on other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

2. Direct Connection

There's no easier way to connect with prospective employers or other professionals than through social media. Face-to-face networking can be intimidating, so using social media as a means to introduce yourself is a great starting point that is unobtrusive and requires practically zero effort. Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are great platforms for professionals to use when trying to expand their networks. The micro-blogging site, Twitter, is such an easy way to follow a person or company without needing permission to do so. If you're interested in making a connection, all you have to do is find that person or company's Twitter handle (e.g. @PayScale) and start following them. If you're feeling up for the challenge, you can try sending that new contact a "DM" (direct message) and introduce yourself in 140 characters or less. Be careful to protect your online identity by cleaning up your profiles. (You can learn how to do that here.)

3. Your Two Cents

Another way to get recognized by people or brands that you're trying to connect with on social media is to share and comment on their content. For instance, if you come across a post or tweet from the prospective connection and you find it appealing, then share it with your followers and tag the person or company in the share (or retweet). You want your name, picture, and bio to be in that contact's news feed as often as possible because, eventually, he or she will take some interest in who you are and view your profile. If you're lucky, you might even be thanked with a "follow" back.

Tell Us What You Think

PayScale wants to know: does networking make you shake in your shoes, too? If so, share of your favorite ways to network. Tell us your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.

More From PayScale

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I Spy a Candidate: How LinkedIn's Revamped "Who's Viewed Your Profile" Feature Can Help Optimize Your Job Search

10 Networking Tips for Shy People

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(Photo Credit: David Hayden/Flickr)

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