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Social networking – Build your professional brand

Once upon a time your resume told your professional story. Singlehandedly. Whether you liked it or not. The world has changed. Now even the social media accounts you use can be used to improve your online visibility with prospective employees.

Social networking and its role in building your professional profile

This article explores the many benefits of using social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to help improve your professional profile. It also talks about how to use them to your best professional advantage.  

The benefits of raising your professional profile

There are many benefits of using digital platforms to raise your professional profile. An amplified professional profile will:

  • Improve your credibility in your industry or area of expertise
  • Connect you with more opportunities – an improved profile gives rise to new job opportunities, relevant and helpful industry connections and invitations to make further professional contributions at events and conferences
  • Improve your sector or skill set knowledge, given sharing content typically creates fruitful professional online conversations and exposure to new perspectives and ideas
  • Contribute to your professional fulfillment. Sharing ideas and innovation ideas enriches your professional experience. Digital disruption allows you to connect with people from all corners of the globe…in an instant.

I am constantly surprised (and delighted!) by the generosity of spirit of people who go out of their way to provide valuable information to others online. Sure competitive advantage is crucial – but that doesn’t mean you can’t help others.

Deciding which social media platforms to use

If you start out trying to use all social media platforms available to you, you are likely to quickly burn out. Even with the help of tools such as HootSuite to schedule your posts, adding content to multiple digital platforms at once, can be a very time consuming activity.

Most business professionals have a LinkedIn profile. That is probably the first digital platform you should consider if you are looking to improve your professional digital footprint.

Beyond LinkedIn there are many social media platforms to consider including:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • Reddit
  • Quora
  • Instagram
  • Industry specific websites and digital forums including industry associations

Make a plan – literally

With a social media action plan in place, you will be in a better position to professionally and articulately build your online professional profile. 

Your plan should include:

  • Your overall goals
  • Which digital platform(s) you are going to use
  • When you are going to spend time during the week enacting your plan
  • What you are going to contribute on each platform
  • When you are going to review your approach to make sure it is helping you reach you goals  

The plan should be very specific with details about exactly what you are going to contribute on social media platforms in order to grow your professional digital footprint. For example, you might include the following:

Platform – LinkedIn

  • Comment on someone else’s post once a week
  • Update status twice a week
  • Create an article once a month and share it with relevant hashtags  

Platform – Twitter

  • Tweet 5 times a week on relevant issues including industry news, unique thoughts and ideas, upcoming industry events etc
  • Re-tweet relevant tweets 2 times a week
  • Re-share content from industry experts once a week including information about upcoming industry events, relevant legislative change etc
  • Tweet every time I publish an article (providing a link to it) and include relevant hashtags

Platform – Reddit

  • Make a useful suggestion at least once a week on reputable issues related to my sector 

Having a detailed social media strategy and schedule is super helpful when you are feeling unmotivated or extremely busy. A detailed plan makes execution of it a breeze.

Content sharing

Social media channels are a constant source of reputable, and sometimes non-reputable, news and information. You need to learn to tell the difference and only share content that comes from highly credible sources.

If you see content on any social media platform that resonates with you in some way at a professional level, consider sharing it with your online network. Better still, share it with a short, sharp insight of your own to demonstrate why you think it is relevant content to share with others.

TOP TIP: Always attribute the source of the news or information when you re-share it.

Write your own content – Yes, I can hear you doubting yourself from here!

It is becoming more and more common for every day people to share their thoughts, ideas, insights and observations about matters related to their industry sector or area of expertise.

The content you author does not need to be of journalistic standard for your point of view to be of interest to others. You can publish your content on your own website, your LinkedIn account or as part of online industry digital forums.

You will most certainly raise your online professional profile when you share content professionally and where that content adds value to your professional network. 

Social network contribution etiquette

  • Congratulate others on work well done, awards achieved or major milestones reached
  • Don’t use digital platforms as a forum to complain or whinge
  • When you are commenting on other articles, reports or research, always acknowledge your source
  • When you see content or view points written by others, be constructive with any comments you choose to make. There is room to agree or to disagree, but it is poor form to attack others online
  • Showcase achievements you are proud of. They could be things you or your company has achieved or maybe a positive news story from one of your clients

New to contributing to online conversations?   

For those of you who haven’t yet contributed in a digital context before, here are two examples of situations where you could comment:

Comment on key industry news posts

Let’s say new legislation has just been passed that is likely to impact your industry. And a key government body has uploaded a news article about that legislation on LinkedIn.

Comment on that post. Put your point of view forward on how you see this change impacting those in your sector and ask for feedback from others. This will drive engagement.

Comment on key influencer posts

An influential person is your sector may have posted something on a social media channel about a key issue in your sector. As part of that post, they may have asked for feedback from others. Contribute a well thought out and concise conversational response.

Your social network sharing should not be for grand standing or “hype”

As I always say, creating any professional branding strategy is not about “hype”. Your social network strategy is no different. Every piece of content you share, comment on or create on your social platforms of choice, should add REAL value to others in your professional network.

We live in unprecedented times – we are now able to connect with millions and millions of people in all corners of the globe. There has never been a more connected world – use it to enhance your career journey, amplify your professional brand and connect meaningfully with others.      

Trial and error

Just as in real life, sometimes you say things to other people that resonate and sometimes you don’t. The difference when contributing online is that you cannot read the body language of others when you are “conversing” with them online.

It can take a little trial and error to create digital conversations that resonate with others. So, don’t worry if you make comments on social media platforms online that sometimes don’t get picked up as a conversation thread. Over time you will find the words and sentiments that encourage others to have a conversation with you.   

Use hashtags for added visibility

It is always useful to source relevant hashtags to add to any post you make on your social media accounts. Whilst you don’t want to go too heavy on volume, a few highly relevant hashtags will improve your online visibility.

For example, let’s say I share a blog post I have written about creating an exceptional candidate experience in your company’s recruitment process. I could add the hashtags #candidateexperience #recruitmenttrends to my post to make sure that blog post gets in front of more people…digitally.

The hashtags you use will depend on the subject matter you are posting about. See what hashtags others posting similar content use for some inspiration and start trialling a few hashtags to see how they work for you.

Ready to improve your online visibility using your social media accounts? Get in touch to hear how I can assist you to develop a social media strategy (including a schedule for posting).

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