By: Shawna Simcik
Several years ago, I had my hands tied behind my back telling the world – “I will not engage in this silly online networking.” Now, I have come to realize how important social media is in this changing world of business. With a sincere effort to update my statuses daily on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, I can credit my social media efforts for a significant increase in brand recognition and business leads.
You can run but you can’t hide! Social media is changing the way businesses are communicating and the job search landscape. You must take the time to learn how it can be used to build your personal brand. As of October 2015, LinkedIn surpassed 400 million users with more than 107 million users in the United States. Facebook and YouTube were among the top three most visited websites in the U.S. LinkedIn reported more than 3 million active jobs posted, and 94 percent of recruiters are using LinkedIn to vet potential candidates. The statistics go on and on . . . so, where do you start?
Prepare Your Road Map. Think about your product (YOU), audience (Target Company), and your value proposition. Research what social media outlets would give you the biggest bang for your time and support your personal goals (i.e., LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, a Blog, Website, etc.)
Take the Time. The biggest hurdle I hear is, “It just takes too much time;” or “How much time do you spend on it [social media]?” If you just take a day and devote it to setting up your social media outlets, it will accelerate your job search efforts. The 2015, Social Media Marketing Industry Report noted that even those with minimal effort (time investment; 1 to 3 hours) indicate that social media efforts increased exposure for their business.
Also, take time to analyze your current efforts. Where is most of your time spent and the correlated value (i.e., networking groups, volunteer work, sitting behind the computer, etc.)? Stop doing what doesn’t bring you value and start using social media. Take those extra 20 minutes spent on printing and addressing envelopes and focus on growing your connections on LinkedIn.
Listen. Your audiences, for example target companies and recruiters, are having public conversations every day online. Use your listening skills and find out where to start your social media efforts: Where is your audience? Learn to speak the native tongue by listening to the key words being used by influencers in your industry or area of expertise. Manage your online reputation and get smart about the competition and the company by listening to comments being made online.
Engage. You have identified the tools you will use and have listened to the conversation – now ENGAGE! Take one tool at a time, get your feet wet, dive and start swimming. There is no cookie-cutter solution but through engagement and learning, you will follow your audience, they will follow you, and you will engage in a very new and different conversation that may just lead to a job.
At the end of the day, I am not recommending that social media replace good ol’ fashion personal, face-to-face connections. But think about the potential for your personal brand and job search when you can reach more than 100 million users.