Most women today recognize the importance of being active on social media. But are we using it to the best of our ability? Are we truly leveraging our social network to advance our career?
According to research: Females predominantly use social networking sites to make connections and stay in touch with family or friends. On the other hand, men use social media to gather the information they need to build influence. Social media helps men perform research, gather relevant contacts and ultimately increase their status. One study by Microsoft, as analyzed by Digital Branding Institute, found only 34% of women use social to grow their professional network compared to 38% of men. Given COVID-19 and the current job market, it's time women started putting their social network to work for them.
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With that in mind, here are the top Do’s and Don’ts for properly leveraging your social network to get ahead:
To really get ahead we need to expertly build a network that we engage with regularly.
Have a recent picture on your profile. I can’t believe we’re still talking about the importance of having a recent picture that actually looks like you in 2020, but apparently not everyone has gotten the memo. (I know, I hate my forehead wrinkles too.) Worse yet is having no picture! How can people engage with you if they don’t know who you really are? Studies have also shown that people are more likely to accept a connection request if you have a picture. It’s worth the investment to get a professional headshot taken, especially if you’re pursuing a traditional corporate career. However, it doesn’t have to break the bank. For example, I had my headshot taken at a women’s networking event for just $15.
Pick a posting cadence that you can manage. Consistency is key when it comes to getting noticed on social. It’s best to avoid going radio silent for long periods of time. So, pick something that is manageable. Perhaps you can only commit to posting new content twice a week. That’s fine. But why not block out 15 minutes on your calendar daily to scan through some recent posts and comment or like relevant pieces of content? It’s a great way to engage with your network, stay top of mind, and keep yourself current on industry news. I’m a big fan of services like feedly and Scoop.it to help you source content that is relevant to your industry or areas of interest.
Have a balanced network. It’s important that your social network be diverse in every way: age, race, thought, skill, etc. I’ve seen far too many women only connect with the people at their current employer. It’s as if we have our blinders on and only focus on climbing the ladder at our current company. Not to mention, women often work on building out their female rolodex, which is helpful, but can’t be your only strategy. Instead, look to have a good mix of men and women in your network. After all, most of the C-Suite is still made up of men. Seek out connections from different industries, who can give you fresh ideas and perspective. Besides, you never know where your next opportunity will come from. The world is diverse and therefore your network should be too.
Use the auto congratulations button for connections in a new job. Nothing screams lazy and impersonal like using the pre-scripted button to congratulate someone. In my opinion, you’d be better off not sending a note at all. Instead, take the time to craft a sincere message wishing them well and inviting them to reconnect over the phone or a coffee (even if just virtually). I recently connected with an old colleague and found we had some synergies in our new roles and could potentially work together on a project. At the same time, his company was looking for thought leaders to present on an upcoming webinar, which I could support. These LinkedIn reminders can be the perfect catalyst to reconnect and advance your career.
Post too much self-promoting content. Don’t be this person! Make sure your feed isn’t solely self-serving. It’s the quickest way disengage your audience and lose your followers. Those of us in Marketing know, once some unsubscribes you almost never get them back. Therefore, treat your network like you would want to be treated in return. I’m not saying you can’t ever self-promote, but I am saying you need to have a healthy balance.
Connect with everyone that sends you a request. It might feel good to look down and see you have 1K connections, but the key is to have quality over quantity. Before accepting a connection, you should determine what you have in common and how the connection will be mutually beneficial. Depending on the platform, once you’ve connected, they will also have access to all of your connections. Protect that asset wisely. For me, I don’t connect with anyone on LinkedIn that I don’t personally know. LinkedIn is a meant to be a business network that I can call on at any time for a favor. If I’ve never met you or worked with you, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to deliver when the time comes.
No matter what, in today’s digital age it’s critical to have a presence on social media. However, simply having a presence isn’t enough. To really get ahead we need to expertly build a network that we engage with regularly.
Have some tips or tricks of your own for dominating in the social arena? Leave a comment below.