13 Ways Social Media Can Improve Your Career

I write a lot about how social media can help companies to engage better with their customers. Today, though, I’m taking a different tack and thinking about how social media can improve your career.

Here are twelve thirteen ways that I can certainly say social media has helped my career already, and can help yours too:

Job hunting

1. Expand your network – Social networks like LinkedIN, Facebook and even Twitter are a fantastic way to get to ‘know’ people in your industry but it goes beyond that. Search out their blogs. Find relevant forums. Comment on their work and get to know them. Create your own high-quality, regular content and they will come to you, too.

2. Obtain references – More and more companies nowadays look online when recruiting. If your co-workers, clients or partners are on LinkedIN, ask them to write a recommendation for you. It reflects well on you and, if the recommendation matches the person, it reflects well on them too.

3. Own your online brand – Your homepage may be what Google says it is, and so is your personal brand. I went as far as re-locating this site from a different URL in order to reclaim the top spot when you search for “dave fleet.” What does that matter? Well, when a client recently Googled me when we proposed some social media work for them, they came back saying “you know your stuff” rather than “what do you know?”

4. Find jobs – Most jobs aren’t advertised – they’re filled through networking and recommendations. My job certainly wasn’t advertised – I got to know the team here at Thornley Fallis through social media tools and related events. When the time came for me to move, I already had that connection. Without that, I would likely not be in this job now.

5. Build thought leadership – By creating your own content, you can (over time) develop yourself as a thought leader in your space. (This one could fall under ‘job hunting’ or ‘job performance)

Job Performance

6. Stay on top of industry trends – If you haven’t already, get yourself a Google Reader account and search out the places where people are discussing your industry online. Subscribe to them and read voraciously. My number one tip for agency newbies was to “be a sponge” but that really applies to everyone.

7. Stay on top of breaking news – You can do more than just stay on top of your own job or industry through social media. Pretty much all of the major news outlets have RSS feeds; subscribe to them and set aside time to skim through the latest news each day. Read what’s relevant; discard the rest – the ability to filter out the noise is one of social media’s big benefits. On Twitter, subscribe to feeds like @breakingnewson and any media feeds that you like to stay on top of news by the minute

8. Demonstrate you’re on the leading edge – Whether it’s internally with your boss, co-workers and internal clients, or externally with suppliers, clients and stakeholders, knowing what’s going on will go a long way to improving your reputation. Staying plugged-in helps you get there.

9. Improve your productivity – I subscribe to a couple of hundred sites; I read about 40 on a daily basis (although a couple of them are aggregators). To go to each site individually and search for new content would take most of my day, and catching new posts as they come up throughout the day would be impossible. My RSS reader lets me get through it in a few minutes before work, during the day and in the evening. It’s a huge productivity boost for me.

10. Learn from others – One of the best parts of writing this blog, posting on Twitter, listening to podcasts and all of the other tools out there is that I get to benefit from other peoples’ experience and knowledge. If I’m not sure of an idea I’ll throw it out there for input. When I have an opinion, I let other people challenge it. In the end, I’m that much more sure of what I do and think because of the input of the social media community

11. Improve your writing – When it comes to writing, practice makes perfect. I’m told my writing has improved immeasurably since I started this site (although I still have a way to go). You simply can’t beat the benefit you get from editing your thoughts down to 140 characters for Twitter, or constantly structuring and re-structuring your thoughts as you write blog posts.

12. Become a better editor – In order to have good writing you generally require good editing. With social media, you rarely have someone else to do that for you so you’re forced to teach yourself.

13. Clarify your thoughts – Putting my thoughts, opinions and approaches to problems down on ‘paper,’ as it were, forces you to get your head around them. As a result, you’re more effective when confronted by those issues in your work.

These are just a few of the ways that social media can help you along in your career. What would you add to the list?

  • #7 is going to be a bit of a problem after @breakingnewson made their own breaking news yesterday:

    Read more about BreakingNewsOn and our decision to take it offline: http://bnonews.com/blog/

  • Hey Tim… hopefully that’s a short-term thing. Still, there are plenty of other news services you can also use (although I do like @breakingnewson)

  • You’ve hit one out of the park again, Dave. Great post.

  • Naveen

    Hi Dave – thanks for this post, these are great tips.

  • Great post. The first suggestion certainly sticks out for me. I’ve expanded my network ten fold since I’ve joined various social media outlets. It’s allowed me to tap into people I probably would have never met.

    @TiffanyWinbush
    http://www.womenmakingmoves.org

  • Great post! I would add “Have fun!” to the list of ways to improve your career through social media.
    Social media tools make sometimes mundane things like staying on top of industry trends more interesting. They open up opportunities to have your voice heard. They make staying connected to old friends/colleagues easier. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you do it better, and that’s always good for your career.

  • Good list. I Twittered it and Stumbled it:

    http://jobmob.stumbleupon.com/review/27646475/

    #14. Do company research. Ask former employees about companies you’re interested in working for, since they have no reason to hold back.

    That was one my tips from the Gigantic Tips Guide for Finding Jobs With LinkedIn.

  • After being out of the work force for a few years. Social Networking is a great way to reconnect to the working world and figure out what is new in the “market”

  • Solid post Dave. Every tip an “Action Item” towards marketing yourself through Social Media.

    Ray Schiel
    The Globals Social Media Network

  • Super post!

    One thought,and it ties with #10. Learn from others.
    I have found that social media – primarily Twitter – has put me in contact with professionals from other nations (particularly Spain because I’m a Spanish speaker). As a result, I have gained tremendous insight into different business cultures and etiquette that I would haven’t gained otherwise.

  • I’m a senior in college majoring in an IT related field. I’ve put a lot of effort into becoming immersed in social media and developing a personal brand over the last few months. Even in this current economy, I’ve had multiple job offers and more interviews than I can handle.

    I’ll be sure to continue following these tips to improve my career. Great post!

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  • Great post Dave, thanks!

  • Great post. I especially (personally)agree with the “practice the writing” part. Hee hee.

  • Dana Lewis

    Thank you for your post! I am a junior in public relations and starting as a freelancer before getting into PR – this post and your others are a great resource!

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  • Great post! Glad you’ve been able to use social media to your advantage. I’ve had similar experiences with social media and my career and this list encompasses many of the steps I took.

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  • Great advice. I use most of the techniques already and am seeing results. The only thing is that you have to be persistent and always have something to offer.

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  • Dave, Awesome post and timely for me. I am currently looking for a community manager position with a company that I believe in and can get behind! My social media presence has been all about community since day one, and I am passionate about the space. I would love to leave one more suggestion to those looking for jobs.

    The Actual Searching of Key terms – Go to Twitter search and do a search on all the key terms of your market segment. You can then subscribe to these as Dave says through your RSS Reader. This can also be done in Blog Search, but as Dave says many times these jobs are just a blip on the radar and often gone sooner than you can say ‘tweet’

    Bonus: Don’t be afraid to write up a creative outline. This creative can describe ways in which your talents will suit the needs of the company. It goes a bit beyond a simple resume and cover sheet to actually describing ideas you might have, and skills you can bring to bare right away. This, however requires upfront research on your part.

    Thanks Dave!
    Keith

  • Great post. I’ve only just started using twitter and blogging, despite working in digital. I think the reason is I’ve held off until I really felt I things I wanted to say. I guess that’s the danger – writing absolute bile and people being switched off from what everyone is calling their ‘personal brand’…sounds a bit ego and scary to me. But information sharing – that’s what is interesting.

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  • Twitter Comment by @scotthdickson (scotthdickson)

    checking client facebook accounts and amazed at how social media is changing the landscape: [link to post]

    http://twitter.com/scotthdickson/statuses/1091645665

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

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  • Robin Kruk

    Dave, Thanks for sharing. I am completing an Online Marketing Certification program this month, & plan to use social media for finding a job with a company or association. I will also complete a Global Marketing Certification in May to enhance my marketing & media sales experience credentials.

  • Great post….

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  • Thanks for posting this, I do agree with all of these although social media can also be somewhat a double edged sword if you’re not careful. When you become too careless of what you broadcast through social media, you can ruin your career as fast as creating your account.