How can I use social networks to advance my career?
Social networks give you an opportunity to control your online image, so be very thoughtful about what you put on your profile. Keep it professional and encourage others to write recommendations for you. Also, be specific about the work you've created and the skill sets you have. It's important to recognize that the way many of these profiles are found is through keyword searches. It's not just the university you attended or the companies you previously worked for. The real-world experience you have with product marketing or event planning, for example, should be included in your profile. That specificity really increases the likelihood of being found by the right type of potential employer.
With greater frequency, hiring managers and professional recruiters are turning to social media to find people. You'll want to be certain that they're finding out the right things about you. Do not include silly pictures or off-color humor. This is your professional face. Don't give potential employers any reason to eliminate you from consideration for positions they need to fill.
Another thing to remember is people have been making their online network as big as possible, so they can search more people and be more likely to find the right candidates. However, it's much better to have your online network as big as your network in real life. You want to be sure you know everyone you're virtually connected to so that you have a level of trust and respect. A network is only valuable when you can reach into it and get something done more efficiently. If you don't really know a person, the online network won't help you much.
Think of your online network as a helpful tool that you can use to steer your career in the right direction.
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