Why You Need A Social Media Makeover

Gail Belsky social media career advice

Could I really find a job if I had a better Twitter bio? Or beefed up my Facebook presence? I have to admit I hoped the answer was no. I've largely avoided Facebook and Twitter even though I've had accounts for years. Here's why:
  • I never know what to say.
  • I'm uncomfortable being so public.
  • I'm not that witty.
  • I feel like there's already too much sharing going on, anyway.

But I know my days of avoiding social media have to end if I want to reinvent my career. I need to ditch my discomfort and learn how and when to use these branding tools.
So I jumped at the chance when my editor suggested I meet Sree Sreenivasan, a journalism professor and Chief Digital Officer at Columbia University who also is a bona fide social media guru for media-types. Knowing my industry made Sree an extra-helpful resource for me, but his tips on how to give yourself a social media makeover apply to people in most fields.

Put on a happy face. I always thought you were supposed to look like a "serious" professional in your Twitter and LinkedIn profile photos, but Sree told me to lighten up and replace my stone-faced photo with a smiling, animated one. Who wants to work with someone who looks grim?

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Create a profile that's professional. People tend to be straightforward with their LinkedIn bios, but on Twitter, they often shoot for funny or creative. Mine was too "cute," according to Sree. (I had something there about not wanting to become a barista), so he helped me craft a new one that clearly laid out who I am and what I do, with links to my blog and my book, The List. (Check out my Twitter feed and let me know what you think.)

Be where the conversation is. On LinkedIn, you can join professional groups and engage in discussions, connect with potential hiring managers, and post updates with links to studies, news stories, or your latest project. Twitter has more eyeballs, however, according to Sree (500 million registered users, versus 187 million for LinkedIn). And while almost everyone will miss almost everything you tweet, those who see it may actually notice you.

More:Social Media Showdown: How Each Site Can Get You Closer To The Job You Want

Hit the right people with the right content. The goal isn't to collect as many followers as possible; it's to find the ones who actually matter, and share information that's important to them. Sree suggests using a site called Twiangulate to find out who follows the people who follow you. Your influence, he says, comes from the influencers in your network.

Find a specialty -- or two or three. I was relieved to hear that I don't have to limit myself to a single topic of interest or expertise. As I hunt for jobs as a professional "storyteller," I can share information on subjects I've covered-such as women's issues and career development -- as well as on topics affecting my profession. In other words, I can join conversations in multiple areas that can benefit me.

As resistant as I've been to becoming a public presence, it's something I have to do as both a professional communicator and an active jobseeker. I think it might actually be fun, too.

Are you on social media? Share below any tips you might have for me!

How to Use Social Media to Find a Job

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