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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OMG A woman after my own heart! I recently blogged (or lamented on my blog, which has a readership of zero) about this very thing. It's the way of the world today, isn't it? Unfortunately, I'm still struggling to come up with anything pithy, interesting, or worthy to post on my social media subscriptions.

January 23 2013 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Roberta's comment
Gail Belsky

It's strange. Plop me in the middle of a cocktail party, and I can talk for hours. Put me in front of Facebook, and I have nothing to say. Twitter seems easier because it's more about sharing information, but since I've only tweeted 11 times, I wouldn't say I've totally embraced it yet!
What's your blog?

January 24 2013 at 4:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gail Belsky

I'm it's like any other tool....once you start using it regularly, it becomes second nature. I haven't really jumped in yet, but hopefully, like you're daughter, it'll only take a week for me to really get into it.

January 20 2013 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great post! It's funny my daughter and I had a conversation much like your post a few days ago My daughter just got hired to do an internship as a social media specialist at a PR firm. The funny thing is, she was much like you, not all that much into social media! She's now managing the Facebook and Twitter pages for the businesses that her firm represents. Within her first week of work she's done a total revamping of her own social media sites and has scheduled time each day to create some sort of activity on her Facebook, LinkedIn Word Press, Blogger and Twitter accounts. Even if it's just the posting of an interesting article to generate discussion, or commenting on the posts of others, having activity each day looks good. Social media sites have in some ways become an extension of the resume and portfolio and really help potential employers or clients get to know you.

January 18 2013 at 11:51 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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