Social Media for Your Career

Danielle Peterson - June 2011

In today's world, it is hard to have a casual conversation without Facebook coming up in some way. According to their website, this could be due to the fact there are over 500 million active Facebook users. Facebook is an example of a Social Networking Service. Opting in gains you access to the Facebook network via your own profile (commonly referred to as your wall or your site). Social networking services are designed to allow users to build an on-line network of people who share history, interests, viewpoints etc. Early social networking services were used mainly to maintain contact with old friends and family. In recent years, the addition of interactive tools, growth of the Internet, and advancements in mobile technology have made social networking sites, like Facebook, destinations for interactive dialogue and thus elevated them to what has become known as "Social Media".

Social media is changing the way we communicate. It is changing how we keep in touch, find romance, make buying decisions, keep up on world and local events, and how we manage our professional lives. Social media provides us opportunities to enhance our career that have simply not been available in the past.

Professional Networking Sites Worldwide

People around the globe are using social media to enhance their career. In fact, three social networking services have branded themselves as "professional networking sites." LinkedIn, Xing and Viadeo are changing the way professionals manage their career.

LinkedIn, is the most popular professional networking site with over 100 million registered users representing more than 200 countries. In the United States, LinkedIn has virtually the entire market share. According to LinkedIn Ad Platform data compiled in January, 2011 North America contributed 47.9 million of LinkedIn's 101 million members, Europe 23.1 mil, Asia 13.7 mil, Latin America 8.6 mil, Africa 3.1 mil, Middle East 2.6 mil, and Oceania 2.3 mil. According to their official website 73 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn to hire employees. A profile on LinkedIn can greatly increase your professional credibility and open doors to many other companies you would have otherwise never had contact with.

According to, Xing has more than 10 million members worldwide primarily located in German-speaking Central Europe (Germany, Austria and Switzerland).

Also according to, Viadeo (originated in France), has over 30 million registered members making it a larger professional networking site than Xing, with members more evenly distributed across Europe.

Establish Connections

You probably already know this saying is true, "it's not what you know; it's who you know," and the people you know are more accessible and have the potential to expand faster than ever before. Professional networking sites allow you to connect with long lost and present day colleagues, past employers, even experts in the fields you care about. You can even establish new relationships based on common experiences and similar interests.

LinkedIn allows members to search for specific people they want to connect with and search results tell if they are connected to someone who is already connected to the person they are looking for. This can be helpful because you may be able to request an introduction via the common connection. The possibilities are endless - reach out to someone you just met at a conference or re-connect with someone you went to school with. However, adding the contact online is just the first step of networking, you must also keep in touch with them. You don't want to establish a valuable contact and then lose all communication with that person. Periodically reach out to that person, establish the relationship and maintain it.

Maintain Connections and Add Value

Increasingly, the professional networking sites are incorporating social media features to allow member dialogue on topics of interest. Use these features to contribute to discussions within your knowledge base - this builds your professional image and showcases your expertise. Add value to your connections by recommending them and asking for their recommendation when appropriate. Ask questions of your connections, and respond to questions of others. Post a headline about your latest accomplishment and update your resume. Join groups related to areas you want to grow in, or already consider yourself knowledgeable in, this will allow you to grow your network and learn from other professionals.

Using social media is a skill beneficial to develop, it allows us to promote our professional strengths while staying connected to people we can learn from and may be important to our future career.

Professional Networking Using Other Social Media

You are not limited to the social networking sites that cater to professionals (LinkedIn, Xing, Viadeo); there are countless social media opportunities out there. However you may want to consider drawing lines between your personal and professional lives. The conversations you have with friends and family are probably not of interest to your entire professional network!

Facebook pages are a great resource for any business, or professional person looking to build a bigger base of followers and reach more people. At no cost to you, a Facebook page allows you to find and communicate with people who are interested in the same things you are. Also, Facebook has an excellent advertising system set up which enables you to choose very specific target audiences. There is also a section found in the Facebook Marketplace where people can post and look up jobs in their area.

In 140 words or less you can reach your audience with the click of a button. Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting. You can contribute, or just view other tweets. Some people never tweet, they simply use Twitter as a way to get the latest information on their interests. If you create a Twitter page anyone who "follows" your account will get the information you "tweet" which can then easily be shared with others. Businesses use Twitter to quickly share information with people interested in their products and services, and build relationships with customers, partners and other influential people.

Go Network!

Social media has become a part of our everyday lives, and now it's a part of our professional lives. Use professional networking sites, and other social media to keep your career fresh in today's world. So what are you waiting for? Go network!

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