How To Use Facebook’s Graph Search To Supercharge Your Professional Network

Graph Search is a way to explore Facebook’s wide array of information about people. Considering the huge amount of information Facebook has about people — what they’re interested in, books they read, restaurants they like, etc. — it’s surprising that the company has taken this long to create a social graph-enabled search engine. Better late than never!

As someone serious about your career, imagine all of the possibilities for networking that this feature opens up, such as finding out where friends of friends work or finding other ukulele enthusiasts in your network.

Recruiters are already taking advantage of Graph Search. For example, social recruiting company Work4 Labs offers recruiters a candidate searching solution that leverages Facebook’s 1 billion-plus monthly active users to fill jobs. Recruiters can search for “people who worked as software engineers in San Francisco, California, this year,” in order to fill a local engineering role.

Here are a few ways you can use this feature to supercharge your professional networking efforts.

Use Graph Search To Expand Your First-Degree Network

Once Graph Search is enabled, it can be found at the very top of your Facebook profile. By using search phrases, instead of keywords, you can discover all sorts of people in and outside of your current network.

Previously, it was very difficult to know which companies were represented in your network and extended (friends of friends) network. Now you can see what companies you have connections to, locations you might have acquaintances in, and even brands your network prefers.

For example, as evidenced by the screenshot below, I can use Graph Search to find employees of Charlie Sheen who live in Rhode Island (awkward!).

So if you are targeting a company to work for and want to know if people in your network (friends or friends of friends) work there, you can. And with Facebook’s pay-to-message feature, you can pay to have your messages delivered to their inboxes.

Try some of these Graph Search ideas to advance your own job-search networking:

  • People who work at (company) who live in (location)
  • People who work at (company) who went to (school)
  • Friends of my friends who work at (company)
  • Companies my friends like who live in (location)

It Doesn’t Have to Be Job Search, Either … Try Ukuleles

Anything that Facebook records is fair game, including schools people went to and books people read, to find commonalities.

When I traveled to Nashville, Tenn., for a speech for Belmont University, I used Graph Search to see what restaurants my friends liked in the area by searching “restaurants in Nashville my friends like.”

It’s Not Totally Perfect, Results Aren’t Always Accurate

Graph Search isn’t perfect. For example, I don’t Facebook like every restaurant I actually like, and I don’t like every restaurant I Facebook like. And I’m sure it won’t be long before some businesses try to game the system by getting artificial likes, thus skewing your search results.

Also, not everyone does a very good job filling out their about me sections with complete work and education histories. Still, I think you’ll be surprised at the kinds of information you can gather from this tool.

People say Facebook isn’t for professional networking. However, since when in human history did people not rely on their friends and family for career opportunities?

Readers: Will you consider using Facebook for your career advancement (and not just cute cat pictures)?

Joshua Waldman is author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies and creator of award-winning career blog Career Enlightenment. Watch this 20-minute video to learn how to find a job using social media.

Related Stories
Mediabistro Course

Blogging: Analytics, SEO, and Content

Blogging: Analytics, SEO, and ContentWork with the former marketing director at Conde Nast Digital to improve your search rankings, integrate social, and increase traffic to your blog! Starting November 5, Jim Hopkinson will teach you how to analyze KPIs, monetize your blog through ads, sponsorships, and affiliates, and leverage your blog toward a larger platform such as publishing, speaking, or consulting. Register now!