How to Use Social Media to Advance in Your Career
Social media channels are defined as websites where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users. True to their name, social media sites are often used for social interactions, but they can also be an effective way to connect professionally and educationally. No matter where you are in your career, social media can help you. For instance, do you want to network with colleagues, promote your small business, or coordinate with other students? Social media can be an invaluable tool to help you accomplish your goals.
How Can Social Media Help You?
Careers—There are specific sites for job networking. See, for example, LinkedIn.com. These sites have specific career-building activities like searching for old colleagues, displaying your work history, and researching a company. You can also join online communities for specific industries.
Education—The world has never been more connected by technology, and being in school is a good time to use that available technology to build a network. A group (selected individuals who share information) on a social media channel could be a quick way to conduct a research study or to post information for a class. While you are in school is also a good opportunity to build a contact network for when you graduate and want to start job searching. Create a professional profile early and connect to friends and professors to start building your network.
What Goes on Your Profile?
When selecting the information you want on your profile, think about who is going to see it. The information you give on a profile will reflect on you, and even with website privacy settings, remember that anything you put online is potentially available to the world.
Steps to Take
- Become familiar with the site’s privacy settings.
- Consider keeping business profiles separate from your socializing profiles.
- Use good judgment. Think of what you would want your potential employer or client to see when they search the Internet for your profile.
Types of Content
Whenever you post on social media, use your best judgment and keep the content aligned with your goal. One way to see how your profile looks online is to search for your name on the Internet and see what comes up. With some social networking sites, a search will not bring up your profile content if you have the privacy setting on, but it could bring up your friends’ pictures and content, which may link back to you or display content that you have sent, so it’s always a good idea to do a basic search and see what information is available.
Types of Profiles
Business—These profiles are for potential employers or clients to see your up-to-date career information and your best professional self. When creating information about a business, make sure it is useful and engaging for clients. Spend some time and plan out what you want people to get from your online presence.
Socializing—These profiles are less formal than one you would put on a primarily professional site, but remember that more and more these sites overlap with your professional network, so never post anything you wouldn't want your employer or clients to see.
Education—Using a profile for a class is one way to share information with other students or to coordinate efforts and study sessions. These connections are valuable not only during your education, but can also benefit you later in your career, especially as many of the students you frequently associate with will be going into similar careers.
Know about the Website
Trends in popular sites change quickly, but the information that is put on a profile won’t disappear if you ignore it. Make sure you understand a website’s terms for removing or changing an account before you set up a profile and add information. Research each social networking site before you sign up, and see what others say about it. Specifically learn about what level of privacy to expect, the amount of email you will receive, and how to change or delete an account. Also be aware of any security incidents that have happened, like hackers, and what you can do to protect your information.