It’s a pretty good day. You woke up to drink a new flavor of Robusto coffee while watching the sun rise, read an eye-opening article on your phone’s news feed, had a mouth-watering lunch at a new cafe, and learned your friend bought a new house. And of course, you posted about all of these things throughout the day — checking your phone every so often to look out for your likes on Facebook or Instagram — hoping friends responded, or perhaps hoping they don’t respond in the wrong way. Chances are, your day also consisted of at least one online argument or an angry emoticon at a post you weren’t so impressed with.
As I’m writing, my phone is updating me on how many likes and new members our Facebook page has — a briefing I get every morning. Few things seem to feed off the brain’s neural reward circuitry more effectively than social media platforms — where we can see our own thoughts published instantly, and shared or liked in just a matter of seconds. If we’re not careful, it’s an easy way to lose track of the day, killing our productivity and pushing our long-term goals that much further from our reach. Fortunately, we’re far from doomed victims of our own procrastination.
While social media outlets have made it easier for people to deactivate their accounts during the week, you can also use the fast-paced environment of social media to work to your advantage. Why not use the time you spend online to meet your long-term goals and ambitions rather than just living in the moment? Although tweets and statuses are notorious for putting jobs at risk, they could be the start of a new career — or advance you in your current one — tailored to catch the eye of recruiters. Here are six tips for networking successfully on social media.
1. Make A List
It’s a pretty overwhelming way to start the day: you may wake up with a blank slate — maybe a few names of people you’re going to call, or places you’ll apply to. By the end of the day, you might have one crossed out and a dozen other priorities demand your attention, as you’re bombarded with emails and alerts. Other days, this congestion can make even beginning to look for work impossible. It’s one reason why people on average only spend six hours a week on actual job hunting. Instead, you should make a list. Try to come up with at least 10 to 12 resources. Think about any type of network that can help you find work: family, friends, school alumni, former job counselors, etc.
2. Stay In Touch
From there, make 10 to 12 contacts each day. These can already be from your list of friends and family, but feel free to seek out others in Facebook groups related to your skills, for example. Each day, try to interact with contacts on your list or add new ones — whether it’s by applying for a job, sending off your résumé, or seeking résumé tips from an online contact. Even making follow-up phone calls or emails help to put you at the forefront in the minds of your contacts. They may just have your skill sets in mind.
3. Talk Face-To-Face
Every day of your search, try to have at least two face-to-face meetings or interviews — even use Skype if you have to. In-person meetings allow for better communication through facial expressions and body language that is often lost in email. Staying in touch can also alleviate feelings of despair that can happen during long periods of unemployment. By meeting face-to-face with people active in your industry, you can further strengthen relationships with your potential employers and colleagues, and also better understand your working environment, putting you at an advantage over many new hires. This is also a great way to practice interviewing and come up with your own questions.
You already share stories on your news feed, so why not find provocative content and share it on channels specific to your interest? If you’re a writer, you may want to join Facebook or LinkedIn groups with the most frequent activity — introduce yourself to the other members and try to keep a conversation going on each post. Include a short bio describing your work, shortened URLs when you post articles or pictures, and one or two hashtags to describe what your article is about, such as #ScienceNews. On Twitter and Facebook, give a like to companies you’re interested in working for, and join the conversation on company trends.
5. Stay Up-To-Date
Keep on top of recent trends in your industry — this means getting involved with conferences and local organization chapters near you. Following hashtags generated by these events can be an indicator of who is attending. Pay attention to the latest job openings as they go live — single out companies that you’d like to work at, and search for recruiters in your field. With sites like Twitter and CareerArc, you can search for jobs by title and position, and then save the results in an app like Hootsuite as a stream.
6. Help Out
You’ll pick up a thing or two as you follow leaders in your field on Twitter and read war stories in your Facebook group discussions, and in a matter of time, you might find yourself added to someone else’s resource list. In addition to asking questions on LinkedIn — try to answer as many as you can, or post helpful content. On an online forum, people will be more apt to help out and contribute to your threads if they see you as also pitching in, and not just being a one-way street. Try to dispense advice four times as much as you ask for it.
This article is updated from its initial publication in Brain World Magazine’s Spring 2018 issue.