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As an executive, your time is valuable and opportunities to pursue personal goals can be limited. However, in today’s social economy, developing, optimizing, and continuously maintaining your social network is critical to your professional reputation, your brand and building your community. Your social network also plays a key role in positioning you for your next career opportunity and demonstrating your ability to deliver key business results.

BlueSteps recently hosted an #ExecCareer Chat on the topic of executive expats, featuring Rainer Morita, BlueSteps Executive Career Services, and John Touey, Salveson Stetson Group Inc.

Some of the questions asked included:

When creating, building and maintaining a network consisting of both fellow executives and search consultants alike, LinkedIn can be vital tool as it allows you to strengthen existing connections and make new ones with ease. However, it is important to make sure that your approach to LinkedIn networking is focused and strategic to boost its effectiveness.

To make sure your LinkedIn networking efforts are fully optimized for success, here are three key fundamentals of LinkedIn networking for executives.
 

Networking is about pursuing opportunities to meet and build new relationships. With the advent of social media we have all become “armchair networkers.” There is less motivation to meet in person with anybody. That is unfortunate, as in-person networking is the best dress rehearsal for interviewing. Further, people you meet in-person are easier to cultivate afterwards into a substantial business relationship.

Given that career success is based on not just on who you know, but who you get to know, building a network is a lifelong endeavor. To facilitate your efforts, here are some in-person networking tips formatted for attending a talk, but they can easily be modified to accommodate a sit down dinner or a trade show.
 

Many executives think the professional promotion they put online will jeopardize their employment with their current company. They don’t want their employer to think they are actively looking for a job. Thus, they deliberately withhold information on LinkedIn (and other social sites), refuse to get recommendations and expand their social networks with new contacts.

Any career transition requires making your professional competencies visible online, as that’s where search firms and employers look. Though there is no avoiding visibility, you can approach it without risk by blogging in any language. Making a career transition can take the most advantage of a blog with least risk of your employer’s retribution.
 

Know Your Audience

In any communication medium, the #1 rule is: Know your audience! If you know little or nothing about the people who will be receiving your message, you are, in all likelihood, wasting your time by trying to deliver it. What is known as the shotgun approach does not work. At best, it means your unfocused or misdirected message might reach a few of the people you wanted to reach; at worst, it makes you look like a poor communicator.

While no easy answers or miracle solutions exist for tough economic times, a recession economy creates a "networking" job market and certainly empowers individuals to take hold of their own career management. Employment opportunities arise out of our network of relationships, not from plentiful job postings and hiring-hungry corporations.

Social media can be a time-waster, but it can also be a helpful networking tool that can help you make yourself more visible to hiring executives and executive search consultants. Social media should be used as a way to promote your thought leadership expertise that will help you stand out amongst the large pool of executive candidates. 
 

Sending that first message to someone is a critical part of the job seeking process. The subject line needs to give the reader an interest in learning more and a desire to read the message. Candidates should consider: What is their mission? What is the most efficient way to achieve that mission? For many years, executives have tried to create the perfect formula for a message subject line, but there is no single solution. Three things to consider in creating an effective e-mail subject line are: creativity, relevance, and enticement.
 

You didn’t reach the senior management/executive ranks by being lazy. More than likely, you worked quite hard to get where you are today. That said, it might seem strange that I refer to in-person networking and lazy job searching as opposites; but there is a reason.

No, this is not one more entry in the seemingly unending stream of articles that browbeat you for not networking or not doing it as often or as well as you should. However, I do want to share a few thoughts you might not have previously considered about in-person networking and its role in your next job search.