Online Networking for Women

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Jan 27, 2011 in , , , , | No Comments

Women sometimes think business networking is akin to social networking–it is not. Business networking is a different animal. In order to be effective, and safe, know the following…

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed women putting highly personal information up on the internet in professional networking sites. This can severely limit a woman’s chances of being taken seriously as a candidate for hire. What you might think of as basic harmless information could actually be detrimental.

Address and Phone

Of course, never put your address and home or cell phone on the internet. This means if you post your resume on your profile, remember to remove those two items at the top of it. All a potential employer needs is your e-mail address for contact. And don’t forget, when someone in a networking site offers to pass your resume along, the same thing applies.


A common mistake many women make is immediately telling people their age, their marital status, and if they have children and their ages. This is not the type of information to put on a business networking site. In fact, it’s information that can, and will, be used against you, immediately removing you from job opportunities. Your age and marital status are highly personal, and no employer can legally ask those questions. So, why volunteer them?

Information about children is equally inappropriate and actually dangerous to put on the internet. It is not uncommon for employers to discriminate against women who have children, especially single mothers, because they assume you will miss work when a child is ill. It is illegal for an employer to ask if you have children, or if you plan to have any. Again, why volunteer this highly personal information that can, and will be used against you? A more serious problem mentioning children on the internet is pedophiles, which have been known to target single mothers to obtain access to their children.

Being married, single, or having children does not define who you are professionally–only state what is pertinent to your work background and professional accomplishments.

Listen to Your Gut

Always approach networking with caution, intelligence and professionalism. Go with your gut–if a connection does not feel right, is too good to be true, or is much too pushy–back off immediately. If they won’t leave you alone, report them to the proper people on that particular site. Block anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.

Don’t mix your personal life with your professional life online, it could come back to haunt you. Treating professional networking sites as dating sites isn’t advised. If someone is getting too friendly, it’s best to keep some distance.

Also, bullying or verbal abuse is against the law, report it immediately and block that person.

Professional Introductions

Give your field of expertise, a short paragraph about accomplishments, and what you are seeking in a job. Keep it positive too, no need to go into specifics about how long you’ve been out of work, that you have mouths to feed, or the state of your finances. Never badmouth a former employer or coworkers or give away company secrets. Again, there should be no mention of marital status, age, or children. Save that information for your personal encounters.

It’s Out There

Remember, anything you’ve put on a networking site is now on the internet for everyone to read–that includes a potential employer. Do verify what is listed under your name on Google. Simply type in your name, (using quotation marks) and see what shows up. Read each post, be sure to pull up the extended version. If anything looks inappropriate, edit it or delete it. When in doubt, put yourself in the place of a potential employer seeing what you’ve posted. In that light, how does it appear?

What about the pictures on your profile? The experts suggest not posting a picture, but if you do, make sure it’s a professional head shot, dressed in business attire, with a smile. A hiring manager with certain prejudices could use your picture against you and not bother to call for an interview. Seriously consider not posting a picture, it’s not necessary.

If you choose to have a Facebook or MySpace page, be sure your settings are on private, you post pictures that aren’t incriminating, and exercise caution when adding someone new. It’s safe to say you might lose a job opportunity, or be fired from your job for inappropriate things posted on your page. Employers check these sites too, it’s public domain.

©2009 Judy Anne Cavey, who resides in the S.F. Bay Area of California, is a credentialed, certified, higher education instructor who taught Work Experience/Cooperative Education and ESL at three community colleges. She is also a freelance writer and grant writer currently authoring a textbook, has designed other learning programs, and worked with several nonprofits. Her Edublog, “Work Experience”, is a not-for-profit endeavor designed to assist job seekers of all ages.