Social media has become a part of business networking that professionals can’t afford to ignore. But as a platform that is still developing it can be difficult to judge how to use it most effectively and which social networks are most useful to developing your career.
Identifying the most relevant networks for your industry and profession is an important starting point. LinkedIn is the most well known professional network, but Twitter and Facebook are also potentially important platforms if you find that key influencers in your field are active on them.
Hannah Bottrill, Manager at Robert Walters comments “Certain social networks should be treated with caution if you plan to use them professionally. If you choose to make professional connections via Facebook it may be worth creating a professional account that’s separate from your personal one. Even if you are scrupulous about the content you post on your page, your friends may not be so careful and you run the risk of professional contacts seeing things from your personal life you would rather keep private.”
Customise your connections
Many networks, such as LinkedIn, allow you to send generic invitations to connect. These may be convenient but they are wholly impersonal. Take every opportunity to personalise your communications with others to ensure you are a memorable figure in their social network.
Certain social networks should be treated with caution if you plan to use them professionally. If you choose to make professional connections via Facebook it may be worth creating a professional account that’s separate from your personal one.
It is well worth taking the time to ask online contacts how they prefer to communicate. Some professionals are big email users while others will prefer the brevity and convenience of Twitter. Respect their preferences and show your willingness to adapt and accommodate them.
Social media is a powerful tool but it’s important not to use it to replace face-to-face interactions. Meeting these connections in person allows you to build stronger relationships and if that isn’t possible a Skype call is a good second choice.
Remember that networking is reciprocal – take the time to say thank you for advice, support or assistance people can offer you and look for ways to offer something of value to the people in your online networks. Don’t approach them only when you need a favour.