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.
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!)
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.
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,
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
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