6.9 Social media networking
Social media networking involves online interaction with other people. These might be friends or total strangers, and often the interaction is through specific groups or communities who share similar interests. It can be a helpful way to expand your knowledge and contacts, or exchange mutual support. It is also becoming one of the ways in which employers recruit people. It is becoming increasingly important to engage with these networks if you are serious about finding work.
Now you’ll learn a little more about the types of social media that can be relevant to your career development.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
At the time of writing this course, the three main platforms which may be of use in shaping your work or life are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (pronounced as ‘linked in’). You may already be using one or more of these, but for those who aren’t familiar with them, here’s a brief overview of each:
- allows you to link up with friends, and even friends of those friends. It provides a place to share your news, views and items of interest. For recruitment, Facebook can bring together recruiters and job seekers, and you can use it to gather information on potential employers with Facebook pages.
- Twitter is mainly used on mobile phones and enables short messages of 140 characters or fewer to be sent to all the people who ‘follow’ an account. It may be used by recruiters to get messages out to many potential employees very quickly and so can be a very good way of keeping track of opportunities. Top tip: include your career interests in your Twitter profile. Make it a micro-pitch for work.
- LinkedIn is used primarily for ‘work’ networking. When you set up a profile, the system automatically links you with people you might know, initially using your own education and work experiences. You can also make contact with organisations and individuals who may be able to offer you work, or help you to find it. There are different levels of membership but the most basic (and free) level is more than adequate for most people.
Getting started with social media
Social media can be very useful for widening your existing networks and therefore career opportunities. Even though you may feel wary about using them, it is worth considering giving them a go if you’re not already doing so.
Here are some tips to help you:
- Limit the amount of time you use it.
- Choose social media sites just for career development purposes.
- Log in to social media sites and just observe what's going on. It’s fine to watch from the wings before making your appearance.
If you do take the plunge, these tips will help you to use the sites wisely:
- Be careful about what information you share and who you share it with.
- Don’t accept new friends, followers or contacts without asking appropriate questions to establish who they are.
- Project yourself in a way that does not undermine your credibility at work.
- Avoid responding to negative comments about colleagues past or present, and people who have interviewed you.
- Think about the tone you use in your communications.
Note down the networks that you are involved in and think about how each of them could help you to move forward with your career plans.
Hopefully, you now feel better informed about the potential that networks have to help you with your career development; by helping you to explore your options, access information about opportunities and also to apply for jobs.
You've now completed Section 6 – well done! We hope that you have found your study useful and are motivated to carry on with the course. Remember, if you pass the quiz at the end of each block you will be able to download a badge as evidence of your learning. If you collect the full set of badges, you can download a statement of participation that recognises your completion of the whole course.