Care and Feed Your Key Contacts.

laptopDipchand "Deep" Nishar, vice president of products at networking site LinkedIn Corp., doesn't view online networking as something you do only when looking for a job. By Jennifer Saranow at WSJ.

The 40-year-old spends about 15 minutes every morning reading his business contacts' status updates and responding. To keep up his connections, he sends congratulatory notes to those who have received promotions, restaurant recommendations to those who have moved, contact suggestions to those who have changed jobs, and article links to those he thinks might be interested.

About two to three times a month, he reads his social connections' status and news updates and sends them similar kind or helpful notes. He also posts his own status updates weekly, sharing what he's reading or a personal project he's working on -- sticking to topics he thinks his networks would be interested in.

Keeping in touch in this way, Mr. Nishar says, helped him get his current job: His connections recommended him for the post before he even knew about it. "Your network is most valuable when you don't need it," he says.

To get the most out of his networks, Mr. Nishar is picky about whom he lets in and ignores invitations that don't make the cut. He restricts his LinkedIn network to professional contacts he knows well and would want to do business with. (Those he's just met once or twice wouldn't make the cut.)

He limits his Facebook network to friends and social acquaintances. (Very few present or past coworkers can be found there.) All this eliminates the need to delete contacts down the road. "I try to keep my network unpolluted so I don't have to sift through it later," Mr. Nishar says.

Mr. Nishar uses Facebook to stay up-to-date on the lives of those who want to share their videos and photos there -- but he doesn't include himself in that category. Seeking a greater degree of privacy, he posts his family photos and videos to Picasa and YouTube but makes them available only to those he invites to view them. With close friends, he keeps in touch by phone.

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