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Social media: So what’s the point?

Career Collective post: Once a month, a group of career professionals blog on a subject topical and timely for a job seeker. We’ll post our thoughts on our own blog and link to the post of our colleagues on the same topic.

This month’s topic: Social media – how to use it in a job search, how to get started, do’s and don’ts.

Responses from others contributors linked at the end. Follow the hashtag #CareerCollective on Twitter.

via Flickr by Rodriago

I don’t know about you, but part of my ability to learn new things comes through understanding the “why” behind a given task or project. I better visualize the steps needed to reach the goal when I know why I’m doing something. I want to understand the end benefit. My personal need leads me to share with you the whys behind why you want (dare I say, need) to incorporate social media into your job search and career growth strategy.

So, you’ve set up your LinkedIn profile. You’ve sent your first tweet through Twitter. You’ve cleaned up your Facebook page. You’ve identified blogs relevant to your industry. You’ve found places like-minded professionals congregate on the web. You’ve personalized LinkedIn invitations. You’ve dipped your toe in the vast social media ocean and now … you sit back and wonder what’s the point of it all?

If you want in-depth information about social media and how it relates to your job search and your career, I cannot recommend strongly enough Miriam Salpeter’s (one of the Career Collective founders) book, Social Networking for Career Success and The Twitter Job Search Guide by Susan Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan and Deb Dib. (Full disclosure: I made small contributions to both books, but even if I weren’t part of them, I’d still recommend them.) They’re written by and collected from career industry leaders and the collective wisdom leaves no stone unturned when it comes to social media. Both books share Twitter handles and other contact information from the contributors for ongoing career education. Reading all the posts in this month’s Career Collective will support that education too. (I know I’ll learn something new!)

via Flickr by checkrecordsdotcom

Well. You’ve friended, followed, linked and connected across the Internet. You’re commenting here, liking things there and RTing things over yonder. But remember, social media is a only tool used in building you network. It’s not the end goal. Building your network and forging relationships is. And as I’ve said repeatedly, networking isn’t asking someone you’ve not see in years, “Can you find me a job?” Networking is meeting individuals, in all parts of your life – personal and professional – and offering support to each other as you travel through life. Social media is a tool to start the process – an important tool in sustaining a deep, broad, far-reaching and eclectic network.

A mutual following on Twitter may lead to off-line direct messages (DMs) where you deepen the connection. The DM may lead to an exchange of email addresses encouraging longer conversations. Those emails could lead to phone conversations where real-time interaction offers an opportunity to exchange information. And, in some instances, casual connections cement into in-person camaraderie. But remember, clicking a button does not a friend make. As with anything worth having, it takes effort.

Rather than offer theory behind the whys of using this important tool, here are some personal examples (in no particular order) how social media helped expand my own network and strengthen my career. I’m a solopreneur. I spend the bulk of any workday alone in my home office. The one thing I missed (notice past tense) about being in a corporate setting was bouncing ideas and situations off colleagues; learning and formulating strategy from their wisdom. Social media connections have filled that void in ways I never imagined.

1. I received an email from a past client the other evening. I was 99% sure of the correct response, but needed affirmation. I opened Twitter, sent an “Are you there?” DM to a colleague (after “normal” business hours, mind you). I shared my concern and remedy idea with her. She offered some insight and voila. Problem solved, in consort with someone I did not know prior to meeting on Twitter.

2. My phone rang the other evening. It was a colleague I’d met through a professional organization (don’t forget their value when networking) and strengthened the relationship through Twitter. She wanted to look at the pros and cons of how to handle a business situation. We talked and both learned something through the exchange.

3. A friend of a friend friended me on Facebook (Say THAT three times fast. :)). We’d never met before. We both were starting to learn about and have an interest in social media and everything surrounding it. We shared emerging technology “finds” and a close, in-person friendship blossomed. Added bonus: She’s opened the door to many local acquaintances I probably would not have met otherwise, in turn, sending a little business my way.

4. A person I’ve not heard from in many years found me on LinkedIn. We’re slowly reviving our friendship and now, we’re both resources the other can use professionally.

5. I met a newspaper reporter several years ago when she wrote a feature article about me. (Still makes me smile.) I met her initially because I was volunteering (another great way to network) with an animal rescue group. We started out with an in-person relationship and now use social media and email to keep that relationship strong between lunches and business functions.

via Flickr by greentechmedia

6. I’ve been asked to contribute to career books, blog-talk-radio shows and teleseminars, multiple times, because of relationships springing from social media contact.

I know I could give 100 more examples, but you get the idea. You’ll notice none of these examples contained the word job search. Yet each of these newly-found, revived and sustained relationships enhanced my career and broadened my horizons – and vice versa for the connection. Now, were I to launch a job search, look at the resources I’ve already cultivated to support that search. We’ve had give-and-take along the way so there’s no “creepiness” in asking for help. By now, it’s an inherent part of the relationship. And it’s all due to incorporating social media into my networking.

Is social media the “only” way to conduct a job search and enhance your career? Absolutely NOT. But, as you can see, it is an effective method to nurture and grow your support network. Next time you’re sitting wondering “What’s the point?” Think about benefits all participants in social media networks garner from all these interactions. In this day and age, no one has to go it alone.

If you need more Twitter benefit examples, they’re here.

Here’s what my colleagues have to say:

Make Your Career More Social: Show Up and Engage, @WalterAkana,

You 2.0: The Brave New World of Social Media and Online Job Searches, @dawnrasmussen

How to Get a New Job Using Social Media, @DebraWheatman

Social Media: Choosing, Using, and Confusing, @ErinKennedyCPRW

How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman

Updating: A Social Media Strategy For Job Search, @TimsStrategy

Your Career Needs Social Media – Get Started, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

We Get By With a Little Recs from Our Friends, @chandlee

Expat Careers & Social Media: Social Media is Potentially 6 Times more Influential than a CV or Resume, @expatcoachmegan

Social-Media Tools and Resources to Maximize Your Personalized Job Search, @KatCareerGal

Job Search and Social Media: A Collective Approach, @careersherpa

How Having Your Own Website Helps You, @keppie_careers

Social Media: So what’s the point?, @DawnBugni

Tools that change your world, @WorkWithIllness

HOW TO: Meet People IRL via LinkedIn, @AvidCareerist

Effective Web 2.0 Job Search: Top 5 Secrets, @resumeservice

Jumping Into the Social Media Sea @ValueIntoWords

Sink or Swim in Social Media, @KCCareerCoach

Social Media Primer for Job Seekers, @LaurieBerenson

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17 Comments

  1. [...] Social Media: So what’s the point?, @DawnBugni #CareerCollective [...]

  2. [...] Social Media: So what’s the point?, @DawnBugni #CareerCollective [...]

  3. Rosalind Joffe says:

    Dawn – The examples you gave of how these tools help YOU are terrific and nail it for me. I can only see benefits when I can see their application. Well thought out piece – thank you!

    • Dawn says:

      Thank YOU Rosalind. We’re an example of social media wonderfulness too! I know you’re an animal lover and an all around generous soul because we’ve taken the time to converse outside the public streams. I treasure that. :)

  4. Wow, Dawn, I feel invigorated reading your beefy examples of the concrete value you’ve netted from social media! … and I feel grateful that, because of social media, you and I not only met, but have been able to swap business and personal insights regularly. A bonus was meeting you and sharing that glass of wine (or 2) on the boat in N’awlins!

    Here’s one of my favorite snippets from your post as to the direct benefit of dipping your toe into the social media ocean: “… casual connections cement into in-person camaraderie.” YES! YES!

    I’m always enriched by your career musings and stories.

    Jacqui

    • Dawn says:

      Jacqui –

      Thank you! I count our business and personal relationship as a MAJOR value garnered from social media.

      (I wish I had a dollar for every DM we’ve exchanged … )

      D

  5. [...] Social Media: So what’s the point?, @DawnBugni [...]

  6. Dawn – Thanks for the mention for my book! It’s no secret I absolutely agree with you about how important social media is for job seekers — and business owners. I LOVE your wonderful stories illustrating some of the many benefits of connecting online. I’m sure they just scratch the surface. I’m so glad we met via social media and look forward to more opportunities to get together “IRL.”

  7. Dawn Lennon says:

    You knocked it out of the part with this post, Dawn. Your examples are powerful, affirming those of us who do this and hopefully converting those still pooh-poohing it. I wouldn’t be writing this to you if I hadn’t met you via Twitter and enjoyed a warm, fun on-line friendship ever since. I’m a lucky gal! ~Other Dawn

  8. Nick Gronow says:

    Thanks Dawn for these real-world examples of how social media has helped you out. I read so many lists these days of what to do and how to do it, it is nice to just read how something that someone asks you to do has personally benefited their life.

    • Dawn says:

      Nick –

      How nice of you to take a moment of your time to leave some encouraging words. Thank you. (Yet another benefit of social media … kind words from a stranger.)

      Best!

  9. [...] Social Media: So what’s the point?, @DawnBugni #CareerCollective [...]

  10. [...] Social Media: So what's the point?, @DawnBugni #CareerCollective [...]

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