Are you one of those who think social networks are only good for real-time sports scores and posting updates on your lunch? If so, you’re missing out on social media’s power to help you successfully build and progress in your career.
Whether you’re still in school or are looking for a new job right now, you should begin to develop your social media presence – your “personal brand”. This doesn’t happen overnight; a strong brand takes time to build, so start now. With a good head start, you’ll have an advantage over your competition – both when you’re ready to enter the job market and when the time comes to change careers.
Building your brand doesn’t require a huge investment of money, or even time. However, it can only be built through consistent effort.
Here are some suggestions on where to start:
You’ve put a lot of effort into your studies and developing knowledge for your desired career; don’t keep it all to yourself… share your brand! Not with a shotgun approach, blasting away hoping something hits the target. Instead, explore the social media options that best fit the type of work you do (or would like to do):
- Writers and poets: blogs; Tumblr and other online writing communities are a great way to share and develop your work
- Graphic artists, visual artists and photographers: Make social media your portfolio; your own blog is a great place to start, but don’t neglect the host of online galleries out there
- Musicians: post free MP3 files on legal sharing sites like Noisetrade; upload videos of your performances to YouTube (like this) and link to them from a blog
- Programmers: create an app, start an online-game server, or write some shareware… get in the game!
- Non-techies: use blogs and other social media channels like Twitter to showcase your abilities as a writer, communicator, researcher or analyst; find a niche for your talents, and show them off
Comment on others’ blogs or Facebook pages; re-tweet or reply to tweets that you find interesting. Continue conversations by posting links to the work of others you admire, or maybe even disagree with, in your blog posts. Soon, you’ll begin to make a name for yourself (without even printing business cards!)
In the world of social media, it’s good to be a “follower”. Find your career heroes, mentors and influencers on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks. Follow their updates, “like” their pages, comment on their blogs. Follow their networking example as well: examine how they use media and consider whether those techniques will work for you.
It’s not just for parties anymore. Answer your emails, voice mails and comments to your blogs; reply to direct messages through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – or wherever you’re linked. If someone takes the time to contact you…a gracious and timely response is expected.
Put the “social” back into social media by connecting with professionals in your current or potential chosen field. Inquiries about their work, their inspiration, or techniques they use in their craft will get artists, artisans and professionals talking—and will get their attention. You may even connect with potential mentors simply by asking intelligent questions about what they do.
Keep your content fresh and present it in a creative way. Tweak your template, change your profile picture, and update your page. Don’t leave the same video on top week after week after week. Make your media easy to read, easy to find, and interesting.
Avoid inaccuracy, that is. Always double-check links before posting them; publishing incorrect links to your own stuff is a huge credibility killer. Whether you’re providing information online or handing out business cards with your website address, proofread those links!
It’s easy to keep your online reputation “clean” – and polished. As we all know now, potential employers will Google you, check your Facebook page and look into other online accounts. Don’t give them a reason not to hire you; clean up or delete objectionable posts, pictures and pages.
Building a strong personal brand is essentially free; as long as you have an Internet connection, a little time and a good strategy…you can make a name for yourself online – starting now. Don’t wait until your diploma is hand!
Be smart, be professional – and let your online professional reputation become the trail of breadcrumbs that leads to your dream job.
About the Author: Amelia Hadfield is a recent university graduate and freelance writer, currently working with UK promotional gifts distributor Ideasbynet on their personal branding series. This resource helps guide job seekers through the ins and outs of developing an online personal brand.