How Social Networking Can Help Your Career

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In 2010, it seems like social media and social networking are everywhere. Young children have cell phones, laptops, and social sites like Facebook. Many Americans can not go a day without checking their social media pages - Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn to name a few. I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with that - obviously it's a personal preference of how one chooses to spend their time. But, when it comes to searching for a job or keeping a job, is social media helpful? Have you learned anything along the way that you would share with other job seekers?
Having a background in communications, I understand the significant impact social media has played on society. Many companies are forward-thinking and have employees who update Facebook accounts or even post jobs on Facebook or LinkedIn. I think this is a great resource since it is a new way to reach the public that hasn't been used until recently. My concern is that many new college graduates are not using these sites for a professional purpose. I have learned that it is important to market yourself online as you would in person.
If you use a social networking site to actually network, it's time to make your profile or public page appropriate. Even if your page is seemingly innocent, friends can post pictures or make comments that may show a different side of you. If you would like to continue and use a social networking site for socializing, try making two different accounts (you can use a personal email address and a school email address, if applicable, to join). One page should be professional - you can include your middle initial to differentiate the accounts. Your picture should be updated and appear professional. If you are job-hunting, say so in your profile. There are many people who will be willing to help you if they know this information. With this page, you should seek out companies that interest you, blogs you want to follow, and professional networking groups. You can post pictures of professional events you attend, but keep your personal pictures private. For a professional site, you may want to keep your information public so more contacts may find you on the site. If you are uncomfortable with doing so, a more subtle way of suggesting your social site to others is by including a link in your email signature. If other people are looking for contacts, they will most likely friend you when you exchange emails.
Many sites, like, are great networking tools because you can import articles you like and events you are attending. It's a great idea to ask for feedback, such as "What does everyone think of this event?" If you like to write, start to write about topics you are passionate about or volunteer for a group who needs help with writing up their events. You can post your writings on your page and show what you are working on. The same can be said if you are involved in any number of fields - education, medicine, and finance to name a few. If you find an article that expresses a great viewpoint, share it with your colleagues and ask for their input. I see many professionals doing exactly this on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It exhibits a great sense of community with your profession and will give you something to talk about when you see your virtual friends at an event or lecture.
Is anyone going to try and make a professional profile? If so, let me know how it goes. I hope this article gives you fresh insight into the professional world of social networking.

By: Amy Muldoon

Amy Muldoon graduated from Penn State University in 2005 and worked in corporate public relations for three years before returning to graduate school at Holy Family University to become a secondary English teacher. Her strengths include: drafting speeches, writing talking points for media interviews, making corporate presentations, and writing for publications.

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