Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Using social media as job search and career development business analysis resources 11: thinking through your planned online professional image and message 2

This is my eleventh installment to a series on the points of intersection between business intelligence and its gathering, and social media and related interactive online channels as sources of actionable information and insight, as they can be applied to job search and career development (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 397 and following for Parts 1-10.)

I began to explicitly discuss tools and forums for marketing yourself online and through social media as a valuable, employable professional in Part 10 of this series. My focus there was on writing effective online profiles for posting in business social networking sites such as LinkedIn. And I wrote in that context how those documents are similar to and how they differ from resumes when both are carefully written for their respective purposes.

I then added at the end of Part 10 that I would continue its discussion here, with a selectively detailed consideration of:

• A wider range of social media-formatted professional channels and forums where you can market yourself for what you have done and can do.
• That includes participating in online professional groups, posing and answering questions in forums where they can be publically shared, blogging and use of twitter and a range of other options.
• And I added that I would write about using tools of this sort coordinately to create an overall more effective and more visible marketing message.

I began in Part 10 with LinkedIn as a working example of a business oriented social networking site, that you can market your professional skills and experience through. So I will at least begin this posting there too, noting that LinkedIn and most other professional social media sites like it, offer a lot more than just a forum for posting professional profiles.

Know your intended target audiences that you would want to have viewing your online profile and other, related professionally oriented social media content. What information sharing options and resources do they participate in and post to? Use them too, and branch out as appropriate from there. And use the full range of resources and connectivity options that are offered through the social media sites and channels that you use.

As a simple example of that, which is often overlooked – when a site like LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to add a photo of yourself do so, using a professional but hopefully not stilted looking picture of yourself that focuses in on your face in the manner of a passport photo. It is surprising how many people do not do this, or add in an inappropriate photo such as a picture of a logo or even of one of their children. We are a visually oriented species and when a lack of a photo jumps out at a reader where one would be expected, that is noticeable. At least consider adding a photo, and think through your reasoning for not doing so if you chose to skip utilizing this way of humanizing your perhaps more dryly written text profile.

But my real focus here is on other resources that sites such as LinkedIn offer. And the first that I would mention is LinkedIn groups (and by extension, Yahoo sited professionally oriented online groups, Xing hosted professional groups, et cetera.)

Collectively, these groups deal with and focus on a tremendous range of areas of shared interest, including student and alumni groups, professional organizations with their member oriented online groups, current and past employees of a very wide range of businesses – which can offer very specific insight when researching a business as well as when identifying people to network with when looking, or for gaining insight about a current employer. And there are professional groups on these and similar sites that focus in on any of a tremendous range of specialty topics of professional interest and debate too (e.g. nonprofit marketing, or business accounting.)

• Join groups selectively so you can control the amount of time you devote to them,
• And so you can effectively follow what is being shared on them when you do join.
• Pose questions and comments when you have something meaningful to share, and think in terms of sharing your voice in these collective conversations so you can have visibility there too, as well as for gaining information and insight.
• Respond to other group members’ postings where appropriate and make networking acquaintances through this that you can develop value from.
• And remember that ultimately, you can only gain the level of value out of online group membership that you contribute to these groups through your own active participation. Simply reading silently and then clicking away – “lurking” in online group parlance, will yield you very little of real value.

LinkedIn used to have an openly visible question and answer forum where people could post questions that might only be visible to their direct contacts through that site, or that might be made visible to the entire LinkedIn community. And site member readers could click evaluation buttons associated with answers offered, as to whether they were helpful or not. Best viewer rated answers were tagged as such, and this showed on the profiles of the site members who submitted those answers, highlighting their expertise and I add their communications skills in their sharing of it.

For a variety of reasons LinkedIn itself chose to retire this feature, but as noted in Part 4 of this series, sites such as Quora have picked up on this capability and offer this same type of social networking resource now. Look for opportunities to both learn from insiders, and to share from what you know as a way to further establish your own reputation as being one too.

And up to here I have only briefly touched on a few of the features and options for sharing information that are available through sites such as LinkedIn, and a few specialty sites that offer comparable services. I am going to turn in my next series installment to consider the long and the short of professional image and information sharing: blogs and Twitter (and other short message sharing sites like it for other short format options.) And I will also discuss how sites like YouTube and other visually oriented sites can be used, and for online video resumes and for much more. And I will discuss how social media channels can be used coordinately to tell a more effective message and to share it more widely. With that I will have largely finished addressing the issues of bullet point one of my Part 9 list of issues and topics to address:

• Intentional and planned messages, and with intentionally jobs and careers oriented social media content that we offer about ourselves.

And with that I will proceed to that list’s second topic point:

• What others share about us in an intentionally professional context, as for example when people we have worked with share online recommendations for us through our online networking site professional profiles.

And I will continue addressing subsequent topic points from that list after that. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. And you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its continuation page too.

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