Telling Your Story:
Three tips for developing and sharing your professional story via social media
By Ross Wade, Assistant Director, Duke University Career Center, Pratt Professional Masters Programs
For five years I worked with graduate and undergraduate students majoring in communications and interactive media. Social media, as a means of branding and sharing professional stories, was a strong focus in my work with these students. Is using social media for the job search only relevant for communications majors and professionals? Heck no, yâall! Social media can be a valuable professional tool for everyoneâengineers, scientists, teachers, artistsâeveryone!
Recently an alumna who had just accepted a job at an up and coming advertising agency contacted me to share her exciting news. She landed an AWESOME job without even applying. How did she get it? A recruiter found her profile on LinkedIn, was impressed with the content, and emailed her to set up an interview.
Whether you know it or not, employers and professionals are watching you on social media. It is important that you manage your social media presence effectively. For some, that simply means putting their profiles on a âprivacy lockdownâ so employers are unable to view their posts. For others, social media is a platform for sharing who they are professionally and contributing to their industries and colleagues (professional storytelling)âthey become, what I like to call, social media ninjas!.
If you choose to use social media to develop and share your story â consider these three tips:
Create a purposeful and strategic brand
Creating a clear and meaningful brand is highly valuable when using social media to share your professional story. Social media must have a purpose; so before joining every social media platform known to man, think about your goals first. What skills and strengths do you have to share that will interest employers in your field? How can you best share those skills and strengths? Is your goal to frame yourself as an expert in a particular field or topic? Is your goal to serve others and connect them to resources? Once you know your goal, and understand what you want to contribute, you can be strategic in selecting your social media platforms. For example, if you are a Visual Arts major with a concentration in graphic design, Behance and Instagram may be your best social media tools as they are primarily visual and populated by visual arts professionals. If you are an Ocean Sciences major your best bets for social media may be WordPress, for blogging about your research or current trends and advances in the field, and LinkedIn to connect with other professionals and participate in group discussions.
Make sure you are consistent when choosing the name and avatar (image) for your various platforms. NameChk.com allows you to check names to see if they are used on other social media sites. Ideally you want all of your social media platforms to have the same name and look. When picking your avatar image, keep it professional (headshot of you in business attire in front of a neutral background); no pictures of you on the beach, in a speedo, drinking a brewski with âyour boys.â
Engage with others
Engage with others on social media, and âshow âem what youâve got!â As a student, you are learning cutting edge information about your field or spending hours a day working on your art. You are producing meaningful content that could inspire or help others. LinkedIn groups are a great opportunity to share your ideas and offer solutions to others seeking professional advice. Share a journal article you think others may find valuable or share your portfolio link and ask for feedback. All of these are great ways to share your professional story and serve others.
Posting content and engaging with others online once every six weeks, or whenever you happen to think about it, is not a good way to meaningfully share your story. It is important to be consistent and post and engage regularly. The best thing to do is create a schedule and dedicate a bit of time every day to social media. For example, I have a Monday-Friday social media schedule; each weekday, from 8AM-9AM, I review my LinkedIn and Twitter feeds and re-Tweet and comment on content, send brief notes to past alums and colleagues to check-in, read posts on my favorite blogs, and brainstorm my own blog post ideas and try to write. It is just one hour a day, but it keeps my engagement consistent, and more importantly, it keeps me on the radar of my peers and other professionals.