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