By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting
I’m sure it’s safe to say that young professionals have heard all about how personal social media accounts can negatively impact one’s professional life, but social media has potential for good as well. When used correctly, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites can actually draw positive attention; remember, managing a personal social media account that is visible to influential friends and colleagues can be tricky, so being deliberate about what you post and don’t post is the first step in building and managing your brand as a professional. The following are some ways to use social media to further your career goals.
Follow organizations you admire and would like to work for
If you are currently employed, use your social media accounts to build your knowledge of the sector and stay current on all the latest trends. By following organizations whose mission closely aligns with your own and that have a similar focus or audience, you may find news that is relevant to your organization as well. However, it’s also important to follow causes you are personally invested in that aren’t directly related to work. By actively engaging in discussions and promoting content relating to your values, you show employers that you have the potential to be a strong advocate for what you believe in.
If there is an organization you would like to work for, follow their social media sites. This will give you the inside scoop on events they host, exciting updates, changes within the organization and anything they find newsworthy. Some employers even post new jobs to their social media sites. You can also start interacting with the organization by commenting on their updates, sharing interesting information on their wall, and reposting their events and accomplishments.
Demonstrate your expertise
Use social media platforms to position yourself as a go-to resource for updates on the sector, current events or career news. If you already read the newspaper daily or check Mashable on your phone, why not share your findings with your followers? If you know of a great listserv you think everyone should be on, mention it. Anything you find that’s up-to-the-minute and related to the sector or professional development is worth sharing.
In fact, starting your own blog to keep up with current affairs is even better! Gather news sources together and reflect on how they are useful for nonprofit organizations. Starting your own blog on professional topics can also help you make connections in the nonprofit sector. Call or email people you have met and have found intriguing, and ask if you can interview them for your blog. Having more sources not only makes your blog more credible, it gives you a chance to build relationships with professionals in the field you admire.
Connect with other well-connected people
Do you have a friend who is a networking rock star? Ask them if they are following certain social media sites or organizations to find out about the best networking events. Connect with your friends on LinkedIn to see what groups they belong to since some of these may make good circles for you to join as well (alumni groups, honor societies and past places of employment).
Did you just move to a new place and are you looking for a way to meet more nonprofit professionals? Follow young professional organizations in your area on Facebook and LinkedIn. Check out what events these groups organize and what career tips they offer in their discussions. By following their social media, you will get a good idea about which classes or events will help you most, and then attend those events. Social media sites are also sometimes used to offer exclusive content and discounts on networking events, among other things.
With a clear plan of action, you can make social media work for you, connecting you to great advice and connecting influential people to you. Begin with the accounts you already have and see how your current network responds to your professional posts.