For years I’ve wasted countless hours on MySpace, and more recently Facebook, without any other reason but to see what other people were doing, and to let everyone know what I was up to. It wasn’t until I began planning for my future that I decided to incorporate my social media presence in putting my best professional foot forward. Below, I share a few tips and lessons on ensuring not only that your tweets and posts prevent you from causing professional harm, but also enhance your job prospects.
The same way your body atrophies if not exercised regularly, so would your social media fitness. Tweet, post, like and engage often. Whether it’s a potential business contact, employer, friend or family member, you should display an image of being well-informed and socially aware of current affairs and trending topics. Insert yourself into the conversation. Contribute. If someone pulls up your Twitter account and your last tweet was listed as posting 456 days ago, that tells the visitor that you don’t care, and it may cause them to question your grasp and potential contribution to an organization’s social media plan.
Networking isn’t just something you do at monthly or annual conventions; it’s done every day. Following, liking, commenting and retweeting are all part of the networking game. Play.
Present a consistent image
It doesn’t matter if you are tweeting, posting or liking. Make sure that the person and image you are presenting are matching your intentions. Don’t retweet apples on Twitter and then like oranges on Facebook. If you are a job-seeker, every social media account should be treated as a resume or portfolio; a collection of ideas, accomplishments, goals, interests and values.And definitely don’t bash your current employer if you expect to keep your job, or finding a new one.
QC your profiles
Control the quality of content on all profiles, especially if you are going to connect your social media accounts. A potential employer on LinkedIn should be (and will) be able to visit your Facebook profile and not stumble upon photo albums of binge drinking, clubbing or anything else you would be embarrassed to show your mother.
Treat each platform appropriately
Personally I don’t think it’s a good idea to connect your social media accounts in a manner that every update will post simultaneously across the different platforms. It displays a lack of originality and a lack of true understanding of social media. You engage and converse with others differently on different outlets, and you want to maximize the effect of your message on each one.
I use Facebook to share family photos, fun moments, comment on pop culture and to make fun of and trade insults with friends and family. I tweet (and retweet) news, updates and features relevant to my industry of choice, as well as follow industry, thought and entertainment leaders. I connect on LinkedIn with colleagues and like-minded professionals, exchanging job tips and networking for future opportunities. I check in on Foursquare for potential deals and read reviews, and Instagram to enhance and share photos. I’m still not sold, or completely sure, of Pinterest’s purpose.
TAKEAWAY: While it may be easier to download and use an app that would allow you to share the same message with one click or tap, doing so may dilute the impact of what you want to share or say. And if you don’t think your mom would appreciate that awesome photo of you destroying a beer bong, what makes you think your (future) boss will?