Want to advance your career? Professional development today must include smart use of social media sites. Social networking is important, whether you are looking for a job or are mid-career, and whether you work for yourself or are advancing the corporate ladder.
If your current social media image is negative, then your ability to get hired or enhance your career goals and professional development is seriously hindered. The type of information that employers see as negative is pretty obvious. But here’s a few examples in case you are unsure.
- Sexual or inappropriate content such as suggestive photos or profane language.
- Posts or photos about drinking or drug use.
- Gossip or complaints.
You also want to consider your overall image. Does your online content reveal a life focused on partying, playing video games and making harsh or insensitive comments about current events?
Advertising negative behaviors on social media is like showing up for work drunk or handing out soiled or creased business cards. Use common sense when posting information, even on social media sites where you only post to close friends. Make a conscious effort to build an image that shows a well-rounded individual who enjoys life, is interested in work and in advancing career goals. Always play fair by being considerate of others, even those whose views differ from yours.
Create a positive image
Think before you share on any social media site. Post thoughtful comments about current events, books, movies, other people or your industry. Show that you participate in the community. Volunteer in your city and post about the results of your effort. Learn to take a stand and share your opinions on social media sites without deriding others with whom you don’t agree. Examine, rather than criticize. Respect, rather than belittle. Congratulate, rather than ridicule.
If you have trouble deciding what might be appropriate, then ask yourself whether other responsible people you know would be proud of you if they saw your post on social media sites. Would you be proud to share the content with your mother or grandmother, former school teachers, clergy at your church, your co-workers or your current boss? Check your personal Facebook and Twitter accounts now and delete anything that doesn’t pass this reality check.
Going forward, remember to keep the content you post to your social media sites positive, even on personal accounts. You can be someone who enjoys life, but not a drunk at parties. You can be someone edgy, but never rude or inappropriate. You can be focused and passionate about your interests, but also make an effort to appear well-rounded and to respect others.
Business networking on social media
Networking or building relationships with other professionals in the business world is a smart strategy for finding a job, staying current in your industry or advancing your career goals. If you are at all serious about your job, then business networking is important, if not critical. And here’s a hint: Effective use of social media sites for business can also make your career — and life — much more fun and interesting.
If you work for yourself, networking on social media sites can bring you new customers. If you work in a cubicle and want to get out, business networking is a way to explore professional development. If you are looking for a job, social media is an essential way to connect with people who can help you advance your career. If you are happy in your current position, networking can help you stay current in your industry and to enjoy work even more.
LinkedIn.com is one of the primary business social media sites for those who are interested in networking with others in their industry. If you haven’t already, create a LinkedIn (LI) profile, complete with a photo and accurate information about your experience, education, and interests. Treat your LI profile like a resume—because it is.
Devote some time each week to business networking on LinkedIn. Connect with other professionals in your industry to share ideas, discuss issues, and interact with people across the country and around the world. Here are several ways to use LI effectively.
Business networking on LinkedIn
- Share links to interesting articles about trends and news in your industry.
- Join relevant groups and participate in discussion forums.
- Search for possible contacts from your high school, college, previous jobs, other cities in which you’ve lived (or want to live), places you’d like to work or people who work in your job or industry.
- Introduce people who you think might have a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Ask for referrals and for introductions to people you’d like to meet.
Social media is constantly changing. But it’s definitely here to stay. If you are working and don’t use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, then it’s time to set up these basic social media accounts and begin using them for business networking. If you are already using social media, examine your image on social media sites from the perspective of your job and career development. Use these tips as a reality check on smart use of social media sites as a business networking tool. Use them to create a successful and thriving career, as well as a happy life.