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How to Conduct an Online Networking Search

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New duty station?  No problem, Princess.  Just get online and start combing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Plaxo for professionals in your field.  Easy peasy!!!

That might actually be good advice. It is, in fact, one of the ways experts recommend that military spouses start to uncover local job leads. It is much more daunting to sit down at your computer and start that process. Confused about how to get started?  Here is how it usually works:

Let's pretend you were an Urban Studies major who is interested in city planning and you are based at Camp Lejeune. When you are on the hunt for other professionals, you might start with a cursory Google search to see whom you can find in your own town.

Your search terms might include "urban planning professional Jacksonville NC" or "city planner Jacksonville NC." You can modify these terms to bring in a few more people by changing your phrases ever-so-slightly: "urban planner Jacksonville NC" or "city planning Jacksonville NC."  

Plan to do a few searches with different search terms to cast a broad net. Sometimes the best way to get a handle on your search terms is to think through exactly what you want to do, and then come up with a few different ways to describe yourself if you had that job.

For example, "I am a city planner in Jacksonville, NC" and "I'm in urban planning in Jacksonville, NC" are equally accurate, but do you see how the search terms are a little different? Those tiny changes can have a huge effect on your search results. Come up with a few different phrases you think are good descriptors, and start combing Google with those.

To find those same professionals on LinkedIn, Google +, Plaxo, Facebook, or any other social network you are interested in combing, you might choose to perform a site-specific search.

You can either use the search tools on those sites, or you can leverage the power of Google to comb that site specifically. To do so, enter your Google search terms exactly as above, but precede those terms with site:www.facebook.com (or whichever network or website you're interested in).  So our final search term would be "site:www.facebook.com urban planner Jacksonville NC".  For that search, your results will be custom-tailored to anyone who used the words "urban," "planner," and "Jacksonville, NC" to describe themselves on facebook.

Looking for organizations that specialize in your field (and our example, city planning) is just as easy. Enter your professional field name by all its monikers (urban planning, city planning, urban plan, city plan) and add your geographic region.

If you are at Camp Lejeune, you might be aware that Jacksonville, NC, will not have a large number of urban planning professionals, so expand your network to include nearby, commutable cities: e.g., New Bern and Wilmington.

No matter what your field, mastering the art of searching for professionals and businesses in your region is a skill set you will employ for years to come.  Check out the rest of our five part series on Networking for Military Spouses here.

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