Written by past contributor, Ali Dwan
There has been a lot of debate recently about the increasing role social media plays in our personal and professional lives. We have all heard the horror stories: an employee loses their job over an inappropriate tweet about their boss. There is a lot of valuable advice around ensuring your social media activity does not impact negatively on your career. However, once these do’s and don’ts are understood, social media can help you professionally by building and expanding your personal brand.
Most people have got their feet wet in the social media domain, so if you’re already out there think about how professional contacts will see you. Dorie Clark the author of the forthcoming What’s Next? The Art of Reinventing Your Personal Brand (2012), believes that you have to understand that private space online does not exist. So you must make a conscious decision to use social media for professional purposes, understand what you want to gain from social media, and then proactively manage your digital footprint. You can use social media both professionally and personally, just make the distinction clear.
If you have not yet delved into the social media world there are three easy steps you can take:
- Decide which forum(s) you wish to be involved in – which areas of expertise do you want to be known for? What are you passionate about?
- Establish a presence – make sure that when people search for you online they have something credible to see. An easy way to do this it to create a LinkedIn profile http://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=hb_home
- Establish content – create content that people want to read and share with others. Clark (2012) says “the key is to build an army of ambassadors who pass your content on for others to see”.
Once you have made yourself at home with social media you can begin to brand yourself, internally and to external peers, and to potential future employers or networks. When people peruse your social media they get a sense of who you are. Make sure that you post, comment on, or write about topics which are relevant to your profession. The more you do this, the more likely people will affiliate you with your profession or area of expertise. Clark (2012) describes the “echo chamber effect” of social media. Even a small amount of content can go a long way toward establishing you as an expert. As Clark (2012) says “social media can be a way to demonstrate your familiarity with a field. If you blog or tweet about a topic it shows that you’re in the game.”
When managed appropriately social media can help you professionally. Be proactive about managing your activity and image online and have fun sharing knowledge and engaging with experts worldwide.