Over the last 6 months, I’ve been on a steep learning curve about social media and its usefulness for careers and for business. In boosting your career, social media offers opportunities to look for jobs, be approached for jobs, to be a thought leader and sharer in your chosen career and to network with like-minded people in your field or the field that you would like to enter and to conduct research. For me, I’ve found both Facebook (usually groups or company pages) and LinkedIn have been effective sites for making new contacts, hearing about new opportunities and keeping up with existing contacts.
There are myriads of articles on the net about social media and its benefits but I wanted to share some of my own observations too….
- It’s still networking and sharing with real people
Even though the medium is digital, the goal is still to be able to achieve things with people and so it’s important to keep this human element in mind. Just like in our offline life, it’s off-putting if the only time on social media you hear from people is when they need something or want you to buy something. On social media, it’s important to conscious of adding value, sharing and contributing just like you do in any other networking situation.
- It takes time
Just like offline networking, sharing and interacting on social media takes time. If you are serious about wanting to work on your career and using social media is part of your plan, you may need allow time to read and think before sharing, time to read and comment on other people’s articles or posts, time to research people and companies and to make contact with them online initially and then possibly offline as well.
- It takes consistency
In a busy schedule, this is the area that I’ve found to be most difficult for me. To really build momentum, get to know other people and raise your profile, it’s important to be on social media regularly…..posting, reading, commenting and sharing consistently are key to building momentum and sustaining it for ongoing benefits. It’s just like any other relationship, time and consistency are required so that trust is built and grows. For me, the times that I’ve been most consistent on social media have been when I’ve built times into my daily and weekly schedule to dedicate to it.
- Separating private from professional can be tricky
Whilst LinkedIn still remains mainly dedicated to our professional lives, Facebook and some of the other sites can be a bit tricky if you want to maintain a distinction between your private and professional life. For me, the best answer is to assume that nothing on social media is really private and so if there’s something that I don’t want to share with my professional contacts, I keep it strictly offline.
I don’t pretend to have social media mastered and I think it’s definitely still a growing and evolving aspect of our careers but so far my experiences have been positive. I’d love to hear how social media has benefited your career and how you’re using it to build and maintain your professional network.