Having an active social media presence can be very beneficial for your career.
If you work in the Higher Education sector and have an active social media presence you will be able to connect with colleagues inside and outside your university and share knowledge with others. You may regularly travel overseas to take part in conferences and research activities. In this event, you could continue face-to-face conversations online and develop collaborations with other scholars.
You could learn about key technological trends that may lead to improvements in your practice. You might receive news of job openings and be one of the first ones to apply. You could learn about professional development courses, networking events, and local business events. Last but not least, you may boost your profile with recommendations that would contribute to more credibility. Whether you work as a lecturer, academic administrator, or researcher, social media could enhance your professional profile.
Having a high-quality profile, however, requires consistent work. Those who reap the benefits of social media have put in time and effort to connect with others, share resources, and develop an authentic and professional profile.
Become clear on what you want to achieve
First, you need to become clear on what you want to achieve by having a social media presence. Are you looking to build your connections and ensure that you can keep in touch with former colleagues? Would you like to be better informed of trends and developments in your sector? Are you looking for a job and would like to enhance your professional profile? Do you want to develop credibility? Are you planning to take up a job in the education sector and learn about job prospects?
LinkedIn, one of the largest social networking sites, is designed for individuals to make meaningful connections. If you have never really dipped your toe into the area of professional networking, LinkedIn could be a great place to start. If you already have a LinkedIn profile and you are looking to expand your social media presence, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+ could be great options.
You must be honest about your skills, experiences, and background. Your profile would be visible to the general public so anybody could look it up within seconds. Make sure that your comments, resources, and articles are all professionally presented. You may be tempted to paraphrase content that you have read elsewhere. However, the best resources are original and creative and they offer a fresh perspective on practices.
Do avoid criticising others or using language which can be misinterpreted. Make sure that you maintain a professional and friendly tone. At times, you may be slightly disappointed with your role, your colleagues, or your organisation or you may not be fully happy with the approach of your manager. Please ensure that you never engage in gossip or share confidential information. It is best not to use social media to express strong emotions.
If you are currently applying for a job, recruiters will likely visit your profile to check your credibility. If you are using LinkedIn, you might find it helpful to review your LinkedIn profile before applying and to ensure that the content in your application materials and your social media profile are overlapping.
Consistency is key
Those with a high-quality profile devote regular time to developing their presence. You might find it helpful to schedule social media time on a weekly basis. You could start with only 10-15 minutes once a week and gradually increase it to twice a week. To build your presence, both quality and quantity will be important. You would need to contribute on a consistent basis as well as create or share valuable content with others. Many people struggle with maintaining their presence as they feel that they do not have the time in their busy schedules. Others feel overwhelmed as they try to post daily and run out of new content or updates. Excessive screen time can contribute to productivity loss and decreased focus on your responsibilities. Your work-life balance is essential. Do avoid trying to accomplish too much within a short period of time. Instead, take small but consistent steps toward developing your social media presence.
You might feel that you are not able to carve out a small chunk of time. You could however explore some creative ways to find time in your schedule. If you use public transport to get to work, you could use your commuting time to catch up on social media. You could use part of your coffee or lunch break. Are there any tasks that you could eliminate without having a negative impact on your work?
Build your connections
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to keep in touch with contacts. As part of your job, you might attend conferences, workshops, or courses. These events could provide excellent opportunities to start conversations with others. If you use LinkedIn, do remember to connect with new contacts after the events. Although having a significant number of connections could contribute to more credibility, it is a good idea to connect with people whom you have previously met.
Social media can help boost your credibility. You could connect with current or former colleagues and increase the number of your contacts. You could request recommendations from former managers and add these to your profile. You could write articles, produce video content, and share your expertise. You could create an appealing profile with visual elements. You might find it helpful to think about your online presence as an extension of your offline presence. It is essential that you show the same professionalism as you would in a face-to-face environment.
Separate the personal from the professional
Many people would agree that it is a good idea to separate your personal and professional life. Do try to avoid posting personal content in your LinkedIn profile. You could use separate accounts for the personal and the professional, without mixing these. If you are in doubt about whether some content, comments, or resources would cross boundaries, it may be wise not to make those contributions.
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