Do you think you should be on social media but don’t know where to start? What should you post, and how often should you post it? What’s more powerful, a like or a retweet? Here’s what you need to know about the most popular social media platforms for professional settings, whether you are looking to expand your network, build a business or find a new gig.
Why Use Social Media?
Social media was once mostly just for fun, but not any more.
Social media is now a critical part of the way people in most walks of life communicate and a key part of how work gets done — from corporations to government. Reflecting how important social media can be, .
Social media allows you to do at least four important things:
- Discover new ideas and trends.
- Connect with existing and new audiences in deeper ways
- Bring attention and traffic to your work.
- Build, craft and enhance your brand.
As social media has become more popular — an estimated — there are also more instances of people who have gotten in trouble for their social networking habits. The fact is that it’s impossible to separate the personal use of social from the professional, and everything you say online can and will be used against you. There are ways in which you can try to safeguard your privacy and control who sees particular content, but the onus is on you to be vigilant. So, the more seriously you can take your social media activities, the better.
Social media changes all the time, so it’s important to keep up with the evolution of the platforms and to keep looking for ways to optimize your use of the available the tools.(Twitter and Snapchat, for example, recently announced major changes that are described below.)
This serious, professional social networking should not be ignored by individuals or businesses.
LinkedIn, with its 500 million members, is the quintessential professional network and one that’s not used as optimally as it could be. When I teach classes on social media, I ask “Who’s on LinkedIn?” and almost all the hands go up. But then I ask, “Who knows what they are doing on LinkedIn?” and most of the hands fall.
Most people just take it for granted and start using it in a panic when they have to change jobs. It’s often too late at that point. You are better off learning to use it when you don’t need it. LinkedIn works best when you use it as a career management tool and not just for job hunting.
EXPANDING YOUR NETWORK AND INFLUENCE
LinkedIn offers a variety of ways to expand your network by finding and connecting with relevant professionals in your industry. The key is to find, approach and connect with folks you already know, folks you’d like to know and folks you should know. You should also post your own content, showing off your expertise on a regular basis.
Learn to use to give and receive recommendations for people you have worked with in the past. You should give recommendations only to people whose work you are willing to vouch for. I’ve heard of employers who take recommendations on LinkedIn almost as seriously as ones received in more traditional ways. So if anything gives you pause, you should find a gentle way to turn down a request for a recommendation.
BUILDING AND EXPANDING A BUSINESS
Finding jobs is the most important part of LinkedIn for individuals, and you can use the network to track specific companies, people and job openings. Spend time getting to know, in detail, the search features that let you drill down into networks of people, companies and job postings.
When you’re looking for a new job, numbers matter, so take time to build your network. But be sure to do it in a smart way: Blasting invitations at complete strangers in the hopes of connecting with either them or people they are connected with is not a good strategy. Instead, look for legitimate connections you have with people — your alma mater, for example — and reach out with an invitation to connect that includes a personal note.
KEEP IN MIND
LinkedIn’s free account works well, but you may want to experiment with the premium version. It comes in many price points, starting at $29.99 a month. That’s serious money, but if you’re job hunting, it’s worth paying for the features that include the ability to email people you don’t know yet through the site, and connect in new ways with recruiters.