As Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” This is certainly no less true today – especially on line. As personal branding and online identity strategists, I and many of my colleagues recognize this, and can point you toward several useful strategies for increasing your Google Quotient.
Still, when a knowledgeable colleague asked about how to handle social networking decisions, I described my own journey from LinkedIn to Facebook and ultimately to Twitter. After a long narrative, I summed it up with ten guidelines that pretty much represented my advice. While I’d not planned to make this a blog post, a recent Shifting Careers piece, “Taking the Social Networking Plunge,” prompted me to reconsider. In her column, Marci Alboher makes a compelling case for making social networking part of your career management strategy. I highly recommend reading her excellent advice. Beyond that, here are my own tips:
1. Decide on your objectives for using social networking sites. Social networking can help you gain visibility and build relationships, but you need to decide the best sites for you; so, set clear objectives for your use of particular sites. For example, you may choose Facebook purely for fun and LinkedIn for business. Realize that joining several sites can be advantageous, but may not be right for you.
2. Be clear about your brand and core messages. Your online presence should be the best reflection of you. Injecting personality adds depth, as long as you’re true to your own values, passions, vision and purpose. Also, “Live in the Inquiry” with all you do online; always ask yourself, “how does this reflect on my brand?”
3. Go slow. You don’t need to establish lots of connections immediately, and you don’t need to reveal too much about yourself right away. Be thoughtful about your approach, just as you would with networking in “real life.”
4. Decide how much, and what, you are willing to share about yourself. You can and should control your online presence, starting with a well-crafted and branded profile that represents who you are. As well, where you have privacy options, make sure you understand how they work – and use them.
5. You can use social networking to promote your brand via updates. With several sites, you can promote what you do and even provide links to your own online publications. Make sure, though, to follow good etiquette by promoting yourself tastefully on your own space.
6. Accept that you will make mistakes. While you should be concerned about “digital dirt,” there will be the occasional off-brand moment. So, be prepared to recover, including deleting content where possible, or by making sure new content is more on brand. Recovery may even include an occasional private message of apology. (By the way, watch out for controversial topics, like religion and politics.)
7. Realize that in joining social networks online, there will be “spam.” Usually this is in the form of invitations from people you don’t want to connect with, internal e-mails, or unsolicited promotional material posted on your spaces. Have an effective strategy for dealing with it.
8. Given a choice, go for quality of relationships not quantity. Well, that’s my bias, based on my real-life networking approach. There are people who connect with as many people as possible, and frankly it can properly meet objectives for legitimate self promotion – but is probably not for everyone.
9. Learn that social networking can get a bit…well, addictive. As I’ve continued to learn, you need to control the impulse to check Twitter/Facebook updates when you’re with others in real-life situations!
10. Cross-leveraging two or three social networks can really accelerate building strong and trusted relationships. Just as in real-life networking, the more “places” you see someone (lunch, coffee meetings, events) the better you get to know them. Same for social networking.
Hope you enjoy the experience, and increase your visibilty while connecting with great people!
Cross-posted at The Personal Branding Blog