Here are five things you must do if you are actively, or even passively, seeking to climb the next rung on your career ladder.
1. Scrub Your Data Clean
This seems like it should be a no-brainer at this point, but your social profiles should be free from anything that could be deemed offensive. How far you have to go down this road depends a lot on your industry or your specific job. And, what's offensive to one person might not be to another. A good rule of thumb: If you have any question at all, delete it. It's also good to have a current colleague or trusted professional contact scan your profiles to get a second opinion. You can scan your profiles manually, or you can use software and services that will do it for you.
2. Sell Yourself, Subtly And Not So Subtly
LinkedIn is an obvious place for extolling your professional experience, but any social platform on which you have a presence should be considered an opportunity for personal branding.
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If you're looking for a job as, say, a network administrator, permeate your presence with networking-related content and updates. You don't want to be so obvious as to high-five yourself on your personal Facebook page for the wireless LAN you just successfully deployed, but you could slip in that you're pleased to be able to leverage your IT skills at your child's elementary school. That's not to say that there aren't times or places for you to market that WLAN experience -- you just want to make sure that the message fits the platform.
3. Develop Content
I just had a conversation with a colleague about content. We were talking about how it seems that everyone -- tech vendors, PR firms, retailers and so on -- is a publisher these days. Why? Because people are hungry for good content, and providing that quality content is an effective way to showcase your insight and expertise. This does not mean that you should start writing whitepapers (not necessarily, anyway), but if you are looking for a position in, say, IT security, you could write a blog post or even a Facebook note listing the Top 10 Biggest Threats to the Enterprise Today. Hey, if that grumpy cat could go viral, so, too, can your insightful musings on security. Even if they don't, a potential employer searching on your social media presence will see that you are a thought leader.
4. Get And Stay Connected
Whether you are looking for a job or not, getting and staying connected via social networks is a smart professional move. Of course you want to connect with colleagues at your current place of work, but you should also think about connecting with people at the places you would like to work. You want to be careful about doing this -- you don't want to tick off your current employer, and you don't want to be considered a nudge by any potential employer -- but there are lots of opportunities to connect without being awkward. Commenting on posts, sharing news, liking content -- these are all ways to build a bridge to the people you would like to be working with in the future.
5. Be An Active Participant
Doing any or all of the things we have recommended so far will increase your activity level on social networks, but it's important to be cognizant of maintaining steady participation over time. Especially for certain job titles and in certain industries, social media is considered a key communications platform. And, with social networking capabilities being built into more and more enterprise applications, social savvy will be part of the job description for many IT positions.
Being active on social networks will not only demonstrate your savvy, but will also increase your chances of being seen and heard -- providing new job opportunities you might not even have considered.
Are you consciously using social media to get ahead in business? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.
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