Social media can be a springboard or an anchor to an effective career. Share the most trending news and information in your new profession and it will give you instant credibility as a thought leader. Share unprofessional behavior and ill-considered thoughts and you will have much explaining to do to an interviewer.
Social media can expand your contacts so you meet and interact with industry professionals who can help determine your career path.
Social media also gives you the best up-to-date transition information and helps you understand and avoid potential career pitfalls. However, social media can be a stumbling block in your career when heat-of-the-moment comments and poor word choices can make a lasting impact on careers choices and opportunities.
Here are a few tips to get the most out of social media and to understand how to use social media to be your best.
We all know about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other industry leaders in the social media field. Social media is also any electronic item that you put your name to or that can be associated with you. Writing in a comment section on a newspaper story or a discussion with your local school board on a problem, all of these constitute your social media transcript. Make sure that when you post, the posts reflect who you truly are and you are proud of each and every social media post.
Passions and tempers can run high on social media and there is nothing wrong with that. Being passionate about issues, looking for answers, and testing solutions are some of the primary benefits of social media. What social media interaction needs is a dedication to civil behavior and discussion. Your social media posts and responses should be considerate of the other person’s opinion; honest in your own views; respectful of that person’s opinions; and kind in how you write and interact with that person. You can have an intense discussion about issues on social media, but make sure that your posts and responses are considerate, honest, respectful and kind. If you are in doubt about any one of these things, then reconsider your writing.
Social media cannot be cleaned up overnight or a new image or persona created. Start by doing a complete inventory of your online persona and begin removing, updating, and refreshing your image. This “personal brand” review will ensure that a historical look back at your social media activity truly reflects the person you are and want to become. Make sure you fully understand the controls in each social media application so the right message reaches the right audience.
Social media is a reflection of you—bottom line. So who are you and what do you want to become? Align your social media interests and likes to reflect your career interests, personal passions, and outside interests. You will be amazed at how these contacts will give you information on job activity, career advice, and detail other industry trends that are not even in the traditional media yet.
If you want to post about your dog’s breakfast, I’m probably not that interested. If you want to tell me about a new dog food company that is operated by military veterans and uses new ingredients for animal health, then I am very interested. Great social media activity is about being consistent and being relevant to your audience. Being a conduit of news activity that is below the radar, finding trends that others miss, or finding unique solutions to problems that are supported by evidence are all ways for you to make a big “splash” in social media.
Blogs are a great way for you to promote yourself and conduct in-depth exploration of issues and ideas that you are passionate about. With Medium and LinkedIn Pulse and others, there are a number of great, free, and high traffic websites that you can start blogging in as little as five minutes. Blogs really are your showcase to tell your story, why you matter and what you can bring to an organization.
Networking is probably one of the most important tools for a successful career transition. Contacts created on social media are one avenue for you to have a wide range of contacts and make relevant connections. Again, a lot of times, it is the friend-of-a-friend connection that leads to a potential job opportunity. Finally, these social media connections are people that are just like you and can really expand your horizons as well as your potential. Face-to-face interactions, conferences, and other networking avenues are equally as relevant to networking as social media.
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for an effective and purposeful career. Used wisely and with grace, social media is a tool that builds your personal brand as a professional, creates contacts to propel your career, and demonstrates the full breadth that you bring to an organization.
Chad Storlie is a USAA member community blogger and a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Officer with more than 20 years of service and an Iraq Combat Veteran. He is an adjunct professor of marketing at Creighton University. Content courtesy of USAA.