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Everybody who's anybody is on social media these days. Twitter has more than 320 million active monthly users, LinkedIn has more than 400 million members and Facebook has an astounding 1 billion monthly logins. Social media is a huge part of people's personal lives, but increasingly it intersects with their professional lives, and so having a great profile - across all social channels - is important to help you build your professional brand and could help you land the job you want.
Clean up your profiles
If you're using your real name on social media, you can be sure potential employers are going to look through all your profiles. Even though it's considered a privacy issue, almost every employer admits to doing it. The first key to a successful social footprint is tidying up your profiles for public and professional consumption. Any images that might bring your reputation into question, such as excessive drinking or nudity, should be removed entirely or untagged at the least. If the vast majority of your updates and posts are related to politics or religion, it's time to delete them. Political opinions are pretty divisive; if a hiring manager has a differing school of thought to you it could be a reason for them to cross your name off the consideration list.
Preparing to post to social media might sound a little rigid and not in the spirit of the medium. However, the most successful professionals with solid social media profiles have their posts planned out months in advance. Get a good idea of how you'd like to contribute in the sector and share your thoughts and experiences as an industry fledgling. Get a few ideas for posts in your mind and set aside time every week to write or share something on social media. The more relevant content you post to your accounts, the better it'll make you look when people in the industry peruse your profiles.
Study thought leaders' profiles
The best way to build your online network is to have profiles that genuinely add value to people's professional lives. Find professionals you'd like to emulate, or have the position you'd like to get to, and study their social media profiles. Ask yourself some questions, such as 'how do they present themselves?', 'what is their profile picture?' and 'what type of things do they comment on or post about?' Once you've worked out what makes their social media profiles tick, use that knowledge and implement the elements you admire on your profile and start to imitate their social media behaviour through comment language. But nobody likes a copycat, so make sure your posts are authentic and show the real you.
Participate. Participate. Participate.
It's all well and good to make your own posts and accrue likes and comments, but you should also be chipping into the community at large. Join some of the prominent LinkedIn Groups in your industry and spend some time reading the comments to get a feel for how people communicate in these areas. That will prevent you from commenting without value, with tired cliches like 'good job!' or 'great post!' Try to add something to the conversation - maybe an additional point the post has missed. Encourage people by asking questions of your own - people love sharing their expertise. If you don't understand something, it's worth mentioning you're a student and eager to learn more and you'll find people are only too happy to make time to help you.
Social media tips
- Contribute and inject your personality into proceedings.
- Bring value to the community.
- Share and learn from others.
- Keep in touch with people.
- Focus too much on yourself.
- Be afraid to ask questions or for advice.
- Abuse or pester your network needlessly.
- Spam or overly self-promote.
Always remember to stay professional on social media and use it to contribute valuable information to peers in your industry. There’s a lot to learn and plenty of people to get to know, so make the most of it.