For many our first experience of social media has been Facebook. There are also a number of us who will also have engaged with the likes of Friends Reunited, Friendster or Myspace. Typically we have used these spaces to connect with friends and family and to share snippets of information about our lives and shared interests. The ability to edit security settings means that we can choose to share these snapshots of our social life with the people we want to. Some people are happy to leave their profiles open to the public. The decision should be based on what what you are sharing, but consideration should also be given to those you are connected with. My personal take has always been to keep my settings updated so that the conversations I have are with my immediate friends.
Social media can also be used in a professional context. This for me is where I see the benefits of sharing openly. Using LinkedIn and Twitter I have been able to develop valuable professional networks, connecting with other professionals across the globe. Within these spaces I am able to publicly share my blog posts, conference presentations (using Slideshare) and papers/book chapters I have written. Others are able to see the work I engage in and connect with me. Equally I am able to reach out to others who are also sharing interesting work. This has opened many opportunities for collaborative projects to develop and invitations to speak at other universities.
Unless you choose to make your professional social media identity private (and then you might want to question why) your profiles are public and provide the opportunity for others to find you based on shared interests and connections. In order to maximise the potential of building useful professional networks it is important to consider how others will perceive the information they see. A simple Google search for skills or indeed your name, can bring up your public professional profiles. Decisions to make new connections are often based on the information available in a person’s bio and verified by a recognised photo. If you have not completed the bio and have no profile photograph it makes it harder for people to know if the profile they are looking at is yours or someone else’s who shares the same name.
Tips for your professional profiles
Complete a bio
Within your bio you have the opportunity to share your key interests, where you work, a link to your website, blog or even your LinkedIn profile. Think about what would be useful for others to know about you and would this help them to make the decision to connect with you.
Add a photo
It is known that people are more trusting if they can see a photo – the person behind the profile. Leaving the default avatar not only looks unprofessional but it is also unhelpful. As already mentioned it allows the viewer to verify who you are. Using the same photo across multiple social media platforms can also help this.
The content you add will of course depend on the platform. For LinkedIn there is the opportunity to share more information. As the current go to professional networking site, it stands to reason that here you will want to make a good impression. In order to do so, it is vital you complete your whole profile and periodically review this to ensure it is kept up to date. Adding the skills you have allows others to find you when search is used to locate individuals with those skills. Connections can endorse those skills and provide you with recommendations. This allows other to see that your claims are substantiated.
How regularly you share information through status updates, posts and tweets is an individual choice and to some extent depends on the platform. Personally I may only post to LinkedIn 1-2 items every few days, however on Twitter I will share information on a daily basis. This is predominantly interesting things I have read that I feel will be useful to the network of connections I have made in this space. I will also retweet useful content others have shared. The ripple effect this creates means that there is rich source of content being shared which is of benefit to anyone sharing similar interests.
Public domain image source: Pixabay