21st Century Networking: Harnessing Social Media for your Career

As the saying goes, when it comes to finding a job: “it’s not what you know, but who you know.”

These days, “who you know” doesn’t necessarily have to be someone you’ve met in person; it can simply be someone you’re connected with virtually. Social Media is changing the game for job seekers and professional development.

21st Century Networking: Harnessing Social Media for your Career

According to CareerArc, 91% of employers are using social media to hire talent today. And while you may not be on the market now, you never know the opportunities that might present themselves through social media. According to Betterteam, 80% of employers say social recruiting helps them find passive candidates.

With all of this in mind, how should you be using social media to accelerate your career?

Using Linkedin effectively

With more than 575 million users, LinkedIn shouldn’t be ignored as a professional networking platform. An optimized profile will help you be discovered and allow you to build your trust within your industry.

Building your LinkedIn profile

Here are some ways to ensure your LinkedIn profile stands out:

  • Use a recent, professional photo of yourself as your profile picture
  • Use your real name and location
  • Use a powerful headline that explains your abilities and goals
  • Display your relevant experience and achievements
  • Show your memberships and accreditations

You can also add more authority to your profile by asking connections and former employers for recommendations; these will help you to become more visible when other people search for your area of expertise.

Growing your network

Key to harnessing LinkedIn for the betterment of your career is building a strong network. Here are some ways you can grow your connections:

  • Connect with people you have met or who are colleagues
  • Connect with people who are in the same or a similar industry
  • Connect with people who inspire you or you would like to meet

Avoid sending connections to random people, as this can come across as desperate and ill-thought-out. If you do want to connect with someone you’re not already acquainted with, consider adding a note to your invitation explaining why you would like to connect.

What to post on LinkedIn

Your posting activity is important in maintaining a professional, knowledgeable impression. You should ensure everything you post is relevant and provides value for your connections and industry peers.

  • Keep it focused on your industry, with updates including:
  • Recent work-related events you attended or awards you received
  • Videos of professionals speaking about your line of work (tag these professionals in your post and ask a thought-provoking question to get your industry involved)
  • New laws or policies about your industry

When posting, try and also show your expertise by offering your own perspective, opinion or take on the issue.

And use multimedia to broaden your reach; photos of you will trend better than just words, and videos with captions will trend better than photos. The more you invest, the stronger your presence will be.

What NOT to post

In any professional setting, there are pitfalls to avoid - and that’s true of your social media presence. LinkedIn is a professional network, so steer clear of is anything not work-related; there are other social media platforms for that.

And also think carefully about your personal social media pages; would a potential new employer take a dim view of your posts? Many employers check candidates’ social pages before they offer positions, so keep the controversy to a minimum and don’t post anything you wouldn’t want people outside of your network to see.

Using social media to build a personal brand

Social media gives you a great opportunity to build a personal, professional brand.

Sticking with LinkedIn, we’ve already covered the importance of sharing relevant content. But do this in a way that reflects your own personality - be uniquely you to stand out. Try creative ways to get your message across, and share content that you enjoy.

Your interactions with others are also important in building your brand. If you see an article you like, leave a comment and a constructive viewpoint, whilst thanking the person who shared it. Comments are more valuable than likes in terms of your visibility and brand building, so think them through and ensure they’re always helpful and add value.

Remember, any comment you leave or post you like can be seen by anyone looking at your

profile, so pause before you post and think about if your employer or employee saw this; would it be appropriate?

Using your network when looking for a job

If you’re on the job hunt, your LinkedIn profile can be a great benefit - and you can use your network to help land your desired position.

Say one of your connections works at your dream company; direct message them and ask them if they would be willing to grab a coffee and talk about the company culture and their experience there.

If possible, you can also post that you are looking for a new job and ask for recommendations for companies that are hiring, as well as using groups to search for new opportunities.

With our world becoming more global, social media is here to stay. Learning how to use social media early on to better your career can help you immensely down the road. Whether you are new to social media or an active user, always pause before you post and make sure what you are saying is in line with your personal brand… and won’t come back to haunt you later on in your career.

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