Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Using social media as job search and career development business analysis resources 16: developing and using a social media professional presence to more effectively communicate

This is my sixteenth 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 1-15.)

I discussed a succession of social media tools in Parts 10-14 of this series, as they can be used in developing and sharing elements of an overall professional message and image. Then in Part 15 I began to more systematically discuss how these various resources can be used together to create professional message and image enhancing synergies and both for what is offered through them, and for your overall message reach and impact. Social media tools can and do individually offer opportunity to tell parts of your story, as you would present it in job search and career development contexts. But when they are used together strategically, their combinations can create for you a greater source of value than you would be able to develop from the sum of them when they are only considered and used separately.

Then I ended Part 15’s overall discussion by switching directions to consider communications, and how the primary goal of a professional online presence is to help you enter into conversations that can help you to advance your work life and career. And I made note in that regard, of:

• Instant messaging and texting,
Skype, and related audio/video calling and conference calling resources,
• As well as direct face to face meetings.

This is, of course a crucially incomplete list of direct communications options, with email an obvious addition to it. And virtually all of the social media tools that I have discussed up to here in this series can be used to both facilitate and encourage feedback and conversation, so most all of those tools can be added to this list as well.

As a first and I add obvious point that I could make here in addressing communications best practices,

• Effectively using combinations of communications tools in a professional context, can create synergies in value created and offered,
• Just as use of suites of social media tools can offer enhanced value in creating and offering a more effective professional message that would be used to initiate those conversations.

Let’s consider some of the pieces of this combined communications channels puzzle, and how they can be made to work together more effectively, so as to create those synergies. And this means looking at the types of messages that these tools can individually, most effectively be used to share. The synergies that I write of here, all develop out of effectively capitalizing on the varying strengths of these tools to share an overall communications message through them, with every part of that overall message going out where it would be most effectively presented.

• Some of these tools focus essentially entirely on short format messages (e.g. instant messaging services.)
• Some support both short and longer format messages (e.g. email.)
• Both of those are largely text-oriented, and can be used synchronously or asynchronously – with or without immediate back and forth response.
• And email can effectively include both still image and video as embedded files as well as pre-designed message formatting, which can be used to frame messages shared in a personal professionally brand-oriented manner.
• Skype and of course more standard telephony can support voice, and Skype and a growing number of alternatives to it also support sight and sound video conferencing.
• And as one of those alternatives that I add has been around and in use for a long time now, I add web conferencing services that can be used to bring groups together as its defining strength. With that, I add multiple participant options to the more one-to-one conversations that predominate for Skype – though that tool can be used to bring groups together too.
• And this so far only addresses electronic and social media tools and channels. Face to face goes back as far as language and communications do and farther.

And this brings me to some fundamental questions. Who do you seek to communicate with? And what types of messages do you wish to share with them, and to gain from them in return? The social media tools that I focused on in Parts 10-14 of this series all at least start out as channels for your offering your own professional messages to others, at least when they are considered from the perspective of this second half of this series (Part 9 and following.) Who do you wish to two-way communicate with, and what types of information would you seek to share two-way with them through these communications channels?

And how can you most effectively do this? Let’s start addressing that from the fundamentals:

• What tools do the people who you wish to communicate with here, prefer to use, and under what circumstances?
• What constraints do both you and these potential contacts face in selecting communications tools and channels to use, and when and for what immediate purposes?

As an increasingly important consideration there, and certainly in our increasingly globally interconnected world, multiple time zone differences can make synchronous communications challenging and even when they are still essential. I note that on the basis of my own experience from odd-hours Skype calls with colleagues in Asia and Europe, and with one particular venture in mind where those calls had to include people from Asia, North America and Europe all at once – making it impossible to schedule any of them without some of us going online for them at what for us was the middle of the night.

• What can and should be conveyed synchronously and what can and should be conveyed asynchronously?

This highlights just one possible point of consideration where overall message flows would best be divided for sharing, through different channels and channel types.

And at this point, I raise a point of social networking etiquette that all of my experience shows to pay off richly for all who observe it:

• Be the type of social networker and social media user and communicator who can be relied upon for thinking of the needs and preferences of the people they network with and communicate with.

This does not mean always being the one who finds themselves entering into synchronous technology-supported conversations such as WebEx or Skype meetings at what for them – at what for you are difficult times. It does mean earning and gaining a reputation for not always pushing others into that position with their having to be on a call at 3:00 AM, their local time.

But to return to the issues of synergies here, what parts of your overall message would best be shared through your suite of message generating social media tools and channels as discussed in Parts 10-14, and what of that would best be shared through communications channels such as I have been discussing here (e.g. instant messaging or Skype)? What parts of the messages that others would share with you in these conversations, would they see as best offered through their social media presence, and what of their overall message to you would they want to share through other channels such as email or video chat?

• Make being an effective communications enabler, one of your defining identifying traits and both as you use social media and communications channels, and as you connect with others through them. Make being an effective communicator and an effective communications enabler a part of your professional image and reputation.

I am going to end this part of this overall series-wide discussion by citing two types of references that might be of particular relevance here.

• One deals with the issues of who to reach out to and network with strategically, and certainly when you are looking to network beyond your immediate circle of contacts, to people who could offer you direct and immediate value but who you do not even know of yet (see Social Network Taxonomy and Social Networking Strategy.) Be an active networker and a hub networker, to use the terminology offered there, and pursue other more active networking strategies noted in that posting as appropriate too.
• The other basic reference that I would offer here is my admittedly often-cited series on developing more effective business and professional communications habits: Communicating More Effectively as a Job and Career Skill Set (at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 342-358.)

And with that, I turn to consider what others share about us online and through social media. And with that in place, I will finally discuss Facebook and how it fits into all of this, and as both a positive and as a negative and both for what we ourselves post and for what others post that involves us. I will begin addressing all of this in my next series installment. 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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