HOW TO: Leverage Social Media for Career Success
April 7th, 2009 |
by Dan Schawbel
Social media tools are becoming mandatory for career success. They are free advertising and give you the ability to connect directly with hiring managers, entrepreneurs and recruiters, instead of applying for jobs through job boards, which are black holes. Your digital assets — blog, podcast, and social networking profiles — are your online identity and how people discover and connect with you. You have the ability to leverage one or all of these social media tools in order to present a positive image and be recruited for a position that aligns with your passion.
In this post, you’ll learn how to conduct a situational analysis, figure out exactly what your personal brand is, select the best social media tools to connect with your audience, build your online empire and finally, market your brand for career success. In light of the launch of my new book, Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, we’re also giving away free copies (details at the bottom of this post).
1. Conduct a situational analysis
You can’t leverage social media for career success unless you know where you stand today. This includes taking a good look at your life, what your current responsibilities are, the amount of resources you currently have and your career position. For instance, if you have two children and a full-time job (two children is probably another full-time job), you won’t be able to spend ten hours a day building a community using social media tools. If you’re twenty years old and your parents are wealthy, then you will have more time to invest in your online brand and you may have extra cash to help market yourself. Also, you may have a strong or a weak professional network, which can either support your brand or hinder it moving forward.
When it comes to your career, you need to decide if you’re looking to go to graduate school, start a company, or get a full-time job at a company and climb that corporate ladder. These decisions will impact how you use tools to communicate what you do, who you serve, and how you want to be positioned relative to everyone else, along with your goals and mission.
2. Unearth your personal brand
Since social media tools require multimedia and written components for profiles, you’ll need to figure out your personal brand before you start building your profiles. Start by assessing what your strengths are, what you’re passionate about and then ask your network for feedback. Figure out how people describe you already and how you want people to perceive you in the future. During this time, you’ll want to stay true to yourself, remain authentic and be completely transparent because that is how people are going to relate to you.
Decide on your personal brand statement, a single picture/avatar to best represent you and fill out the typical profile fields that you will find on the majority of social networks (i.e. a summary, work experience, personal interests, etc). Your personal brand statement isn’t a job title, like financial analyst or marketing manager. Instead it tells the world two things: what you do and who you serve. After you’ve written all of this information down, you’re prepared to select the best social media tools for your branding strategy.
3. Select the right tools
Social media tools should be selected along the lines of three sets of criteria. First, the volume of the social network is an important qualification because you want to market yourself where a lot of people are already searching for people that have your expertise. Plus, social networks like Facebook(), LinkedIn(), Twitter(), FriendFeed(), YouTube(), Flickr(), Delicious() and Digg() have millions of users that can share your resume, profile, blog entries and more. This allows your brand to go viral and that exposure can help you land a job without applying. Second, the credibility of social networks helps you consider only the tools that have successful individuals you’d want to network with to help your career. For instance, LinkedIn is known to have many executives on it, including Bill Gates.
Finally, the relevancy of the social network, as it ties in to your career and industry, can void the other two requirements. There are social networks for doctors (Medical Mingle), real estate agents (Active Rain), and many more. You’ll want to join these because you’ll meet people just like you. Ning contains social networks for almost every vertical as well.
Aside from social networks, I highly encourage you to have your own personal digital asset. This could be either a blog or a traditional website registered under your name or the topic you want to own (with keywords). For blogging, use either WordPress.com/.org, Blogger(), Typepad() or Tumblr(). For traditional websites, use a host such as Bluehost, Godaddy, or a free host like Bravenet.
4. Build your online empire
Now that you have all the tools in place and have filled out all your social networking profiles, it’s time to start building your online empire. This means you have to start generating a lot of content, either written, audio, video or all three. It also requires you to become a resource and a valuable contributor to your community.
You’ll have to constantly share interesting articles that you create or that you find on your topic and distribute them throughout all of your networks (the ones that you chose in step 4). The process for building your empire includes creating interesting and relevant content and publishing it, over and over again. To do this, you need to be committed, confident and passionate about what you do or you’ll end up giving up.
5. Market your brand
Marketing your brand for career success is the hardest part of the process. Most bloggers don’t even bother marketing their blogs. They believe that creating content markets itself, which is completely false and the reason why they have yet to reach a high level of success. Just having social networking profiles isn’t enough. You need to invest ten times as many hours in your marketing campaign as you do actually creating content.
There are many routes you can take to market your brand, such as being a member of a special interest group, becoming a leader in that group and speaking to organizations. Then there’s commenting on blogs in your industry, guest posting on other sites and interviewing bloggers. You can pitch bloggers and traditional journalists so that you can be a part of their stories and you can join forums, Facebook fan pages and groups to meet other people that may want your services. Regardless of the way you get your name out there, ensure it’s consistent with your brand.
6. Monitor your reputation
Whether you choose to use free or fee-based reputation monitoring tools, you need to keep your pulse on what people are saying about you all the time. The mandatory tools you need to use are search.twitter.com and google.com/alerts because you’ll be able to catch microposts (Twitter) and macroposts (blogs/news articles) citing your name.
You want to have a fast reaction time so that you can locate Tweets or blog posts that you can leverage as endorsements or find negative messages that you can prevent from spreading. Think about monitoring your reputation as an opportunity to learn more about how you’re projecting your brand to the world and take some of it as feedback to help you in your future career development.