Facebook Groups: The Best-Kept Secret for Boosting Your Career
February 2, 2016
This idea of community, however, is absolutely dependent on the group as I understand it. If you just want some answers to burning questions about board game regulations in the U.S., you probably aren’t in search of the camaraderie and bonding that are inherent to the NYC Tech Ladies. The founder of this group, Allison Esposito, created the online space in large part because of a lack of community. Esposito points out that as tech is still a male-dominated field, often women working in the industry are the only woman on their team, They “aren’t surrounded by enough women at work,” Esposito says, acknowledging that while “Working with men can be great…relationships with women are so valuable.” Members of NYC Tech Ladies have helped each other find jobs and have even formed friendships outside of the career space. “I'm actually a super intorvert and never thought I would run a networking group, but it’s so great connecting people,” Esposito admits.
I wondered about the private versus public group. Doesn’t something about invite-only suggest a certain exclusivity? A clique of sorts? That’s not Esposito’s intention, and after hearing her reasoning for the group’s privacy setting—“I don't want to be exclusionary, it's just that I want to keep the group relevant”—I understood that this is probably the case for a lot of the founders or administrators.
If you find a group you want to join, and it’s not open to the public, you have a couple of options. First, I’d recommend asking around. My editor invited me to the Binders Full of Women Writers group, and that’s one that I probably would have had a tough time gaining admittance in without her: After being invited, I was tagged in a post directed at recent new members. It explained the organization’s policies and clearly stated that to continue on as a group member, I was to respond to the tagged post with affirmation that I understood the regulations and standards.
Second, if asking around doesn’t end with lots of leads, you can actually find them yourself. When you’re on your main page, clicks on “Groups” on the left-hand menu. As you probably know, if you’re currently a member of any at all, they’ll show up here in list form. This is also the place where you can search for ones that align with your interests. Based on your Facebook activity and behavior, you’ll see suggested options, local ones, and even ones your friends are involved in.
If there’s one you find especially compelling and seems on the smallish side (numbers vary greatly, but The Fetch, a group involving worldwide events curation, where people often share articles, has roughly 200 members; by contrast, Dreamers // Doers has 2000), you might want to send a personalized message to the coordinator or admin person, if you can find out who that is by searching the main page. If you can’t garner that information from the group’s limited public-facing page, you can try reaching out to one of its members via a private Facebook message. You never know when you might connect with someone who can help.
Once you find a group or two that fit your networking and career needs, your next move is getting in on the conversation. That doesn’t mean that you let it turn into a time suck. Greenawald says she takes an hour or so once a week to scan her group’s feeds and check out the latest. You’ve got to see what applies to you—whether that’s an open-ended question with a ton of member comments or a Thursday morning breakfast with industry folk.
For Esposito, however, the offline component in key: “In person you make a connection that is so much more lasting, there’s almost no replacement for that.”Esposito’s first NYC Tech Ladies meetup included approximately 15 people. The list is currently at about 300, which is pretty impressive. And at that size, there’s plenty of opportunity to make an impression. The contacts you meet through this seemingly casual and fun network might end up proving indispensable to you as you build your career, switch jobs, and forge ahead on your path to success.
As with most things, the professional Facebook groups aren’t going to hold your hand or hand you an opportunity on a silver platter. You’re going to get out of it what you put into it.