Social media, since its birth in the middle of this decade has grown to encompass over 1.5 billion internet users, millions of companies, industry organizations and career specialties.
With this kind of sheer size and massive distributed connectivity, you simply cannot afford to ignore the whole series of social platforms that are available as a career hunting tool.
Luckily, since most of the social networking world is open, easy to use and free to jump into, you can quickly become a career building king as long as you follow through on several key steps.
1. Pick your Platforms
There are lots of social media options out there, and not all are created equal for every need. Some are highly specialized for certain types of people while others are for anybody at all. You can’t focus effectively on accounts with every single one of the dozens of options so choose based on your professional needs.
At the very least, go for a Facebook page, Twitter Feed and LinkedIn profile. Facebook is great for showcasing photos of your work if you’re an artist, Twitter is great for gabbing to the world and presenting link feeds to your work on other sites (Facebook is good for this too) and LinkedIn is an excellent professional social networking site in which you can showcase your achievements, connections and business accomplishments.
Another great option is Tumbler, particularly if your career involves photo related work, but then you can also create a portfolio page of art and photographs through more tooled up systems and link to it from any of the other social media platforms above.
The same niche segmentation applies to numerous other social career fields. Aside from building your presence on the major mainstream social networks, also look for any specialized social platforms that might have been built specifically for people in your industry; a great example being Medical Mingle, which is designed exclusively for health professionals.
2. Build up your Profile
Social media is all about profiles, every one of the major platforms gives you a profile or feed of your own, which is basically just a different style of profile. Obviously then, because these profiles are the foundation of your social presence, you need to develop them into something real, solid, fleshed out and impressive. This is your second basic step in building up your social career tools and you need to do it well.
Point out your best qualities, flesh out your skills, talents and achievements and showcase your most creative accomplishments through your social feeds and the linking ability they provide to your websites or online portfolios. In fact, use your social media profiles as a type of online portfolio, one that complements any others you also have.
3. Start Connecting and Networking
You’ve got your profiles, you’ve built them into something shiny, impressive and nice and you’re ready to network! Well, now it’s time to start networking. For starters, add all your email contacts to your social feeds, use them to your best advantage and get them added so they can see what you’re all about.
Next, start networking amongst the contacts of these contacts and the pages of the maj0or players in your career field. Start joining fan pages, requesting friendships, following Twitter feeds and interacting with the stuff that’s being posted.
The bottom line is that if your profiles clearly indicate that you know your career field and your interactions on other profiles show demonstrate intelligence and high quality feedback; you won’t be ignored for long.
People will start to notice and at the very least they will be more open to speaking with you more if you broach the subject of working together. With a little luck, you might even start getting approached out of the blue for opportunities.
4. Create a Personal Brand and Stand Out from the Crowd
Networking and developing your social media presence by creating an interesting profile that really demonstrates your intelligence and qualities is great, but you need to remember that you’re just one of many others that are doing the same thing.
If you want to counter this, and shine even more, do two things:
First, develop your own distinct personal brand that is unmistakably yours. This could vary enormously depending on your career and what kind of people you want to impress but it should encompass the character of your field. Building your brand could mean creating a personal logo, a certain catchphrase (yes, just as if you were a business) or it could mean developing a series of projects that belong explicitly to you and were created through your own talent.
For example, if you’re looking to break into the photography business, get creative with a series or two of stylistic photos that have their own distinct artistic touch that you’ve calculated to have an impact in the industry you’re interested in.
Second and this is one of the best things you can do to advance your career, develop a product or service-as- product that you deliver by order or general sale. Not only does this have the potential to turn into a profitable full-time business of its own, –hedging against the risk of career failure—it will also demonstrate more than anything else you could put forward that you are truly a productive, go-get’em expert in your field.
By creating and delivering your own product or service, you’re showing employers that even working on your own doesn’t deter you from delivering value. Since value is what everyone is looking for in a job prospect, your little product/service project will really nail that perception heavily.
5. Show that you can Deliver Value
We just went over this at the end of the last tip but it really deserves a point of its own. Every single employer out there is looking for one fundamental thing in their hiring prospects and that is their ability to deliver value. If you can show that you are capable of this in a way that leaves no room for doubt and isn’t easy to ignore, and then promote it through your social media platforms, you will absolutely get hired by somebody at some point.
In fact, if you can demonstrate enough productive value creation skills, you have a good chance of being in the enviable position of having to choose between different lucrative offers.
Reaching this would be the ultimate accomplishment of your social media based career networking adventure.
About the author: Mike Walters writes for EngagementHealth. When he isn’t writing or speaking on employee wellness, he spends his free time with his girlfriend and his two cats.