This month’s Career Collective topic is “social media - how to use it in a job search, how to get started, do's and don'ts”. This post, however, provides perspective on using social media for long-term career management. For specific job search applications, you’ll want to check out posts by Career Collective colleagues. As well, use Google to find great content; for example here, here, and here. You can also join LinkedIn and choose relevant discussion groups, or use Facebook and it’s tools, including BranchOut. Finally, there are several great books such as this, this, and this. So, now, let’s get on with the rest of your career.
It often seems to me that many people in the career transition space continue to party like it’s 1999. That was the year when we were all concerned about defending life-as-we-knew-it from the looming Y2K Bug. Had disaster struck, it would have included a setback for job seekers who were just discovering the newly minted monster.com that promised to ease the process of applying for jobs. Fortunately, catastrophe was averted, and many people breathed a sigh of relief knowing that life could be the same as it ever was. Well, at least until 2003, when LinkedIn was launched, … and in its wake, the social media revolution that would change things forever.
By now, everyone realizes that social media has emerged as a force in career management! Yet, many tend to use it according to the old job search rules; that is, as a means to an end – like a resume, cover letters, career fairs, and networking events. One danger of this approach is that social media use can be put on the shelf with job search tools as soon as one lands what seems like a secure new position.
Yet, the new career management reality increasingly requires always-on engagement with trusted networks that form out of your broader brand community. We have entered a world where social media is fast becoming the ticket to opportunities that emerge in a relationship economy, or as Gary Vaynerchuck has recently dubbed it, The Thank You Economy.
So, what is this new economy? Here’s Vaynerchuck’s view:
[Business] … happens in the small, personal interactions that allow us to prove to each other who we are and what we believe in, honest moments that promote good feelings and build trust and loyalty. Now imagine that you could take those interactions and scale them to hundreds, thousands, or millions of people …. Now, … it's necessary. In fact, those companies and brands that refuse to try could jeopardize the potential of their business, and in the long term, even their very existence.
Why? Because when it comes down to it, the only thing that will never change is human nature. When given the choice, people will always spend their time around people they like. When it's expedient and practical, they'd also rather do business and buy stuff from people they like. And now, they can. Social media has made it possible for consumers to interact with businesses in a way that is often similar to how they interact with friends and family.
A shorter way of saying this, and one familiar to many small business people, is: People do business with people they know, like, and trust. And lest you think you’re not a small business person, consider that increasing numbers of workers continue to be hired on short-term, contract gigs, requiring an always-on pursuit of new opportunities. In fact, the new standard of “job security” is rooted in your ability to always find work. And this has implications for how you actually use social media. To mention a few, you need to:
Establish and Cultivate Professional Presence. If the “thank you” economy is all about doing business with people we know, like, and trust, then people need to know you. This means having an online presence that conveys who you are, the differentiated value you deliver, and what sets you apart from others. The trend is away from hiring the right skills and job titles and toward hiring the right people!
Convey an Authentic Story to Underscore Credibility. Today, people are especially astute in creating personal brand statements to convey value. Unfortunately, many of these are superficial. You now need to provide your backstory, showing you’re the best choice because your brand is truly rooted in relevant life and work experiences.
Identify and Connect with Your Brand Community. Contrary to what many social media advisors say, there’s little benefit in large numbers of friends, followers, and fans. The key standard is not the number but the relevance of your social media connections. So, you’ll benefit most from relationships with your people; that is, audiences who understand what you do, and who are most likely to look for you (or people like you) when they see an opportunity.
Use Platforms that Display Your Expertise. You probably understand the importance of having an online profile at sites like LinkedIn, but have you settled for providing just career history? If so, you risk being too easily ignored or forgotten. You can only stay relevant and current – and memorable – when people see your expertise expressed in fresh ideas and new accomplishments. There are many ways to do this, from participating in LinkedIn Groups to tweeting, blogging, and posting videos and slide shares – just to name a few!
Invest the Time to Engage Others. Social media has deep roots in the idea that markets are conversations. And with the powerful platforms available today, it’s possible to have conversations with people from anywhere in the world, and at any time of day, and over extended time periods. Short or long, regular online conversations go well beyond exchanged information to facilitating trusted relationships built over time.
Cultivate Good Karma. “What goes around comes around” applies to positive thoughts and deeds as well as to negative ones. On social media, pushing your own agenda, especially if you have not taken the time to help or acknowledge others, can be a negative. So, find ways to put others first. You generosity can take many forms; for example, extending simple congratulations, providing links to resources, answering questions, putting up how-to posts, promoting others or their causes, or even consulting with someone who could use your expertise.
Frankly, all this requires a commitment of time and energy.
Yet, regularly showing up and engaging your brand community in small daily doses has a cumulative effect, and will generate good will and word-of-mouth marketing as your reputation spreads. As more people know you, chances are better that they’ll consider you for that next gig because they’re already predisposed to do business with you. Make the investment. You’ll thank yourself!
What did other Career Collective members have to say? Here are links to their posts:
How to Get a New Job Using Social Media, @DebraWheatman
Social Media: Choosing, Using, and Confusing, @ErinKennedyCPRW
How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman
Updating: A Social Media Strategy For Job Search, @TimsStrategy
Your Career Needs Social Media - Get Started, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland
Job Search and Social Media: A Collective Approach, @careersherpa
How Having Your Own Website Helps You, @keppie_careers
Social Media: So what's the point?, @DawnBugni
Tools that change your world, @WorkWithIllness
HOW TO: Meet People IRL via LinkedIn, @AvidCareerist
Effective Web 2.0 Job Search: Top 5 Secrets, @resumeservice
Jumping Into the Social Media Sea @ValueIntoWords
Sink or Swim in Social Media, @KCCareerCoach
Social Media Primer for Job Seekers, @LaurieBerenson