I got to talk about using social media for career development and job search on Paul R. Bruno’s CareerCzar web radio show two weeks ago. We found ourselves discussing a key aspect of using social media: the importance of keeping a personal profile fresh and relevant.
Keeping a profile fresh is pretty straightforward. This means updating, changing or refreshing the content in your profile to add value and a sense of immediacy. Posting a link to something of interest, a “what I’m doing now” item, a comment, a new photo or some other content element are all ways to keep your profile fresh and catch the eye of a visitor.
Why is this important? Most social media sites that offer a personal profile feature indicate — directly or indirectly — how recently your profile was last updated. Visitors to your profile can detect almost immediately if your profile contains fresh information or if it’s been sitting there getting stale for days, weeks or even months.
Like a loaf of bread on a supermarket shelf, your profile should appear fresh to a visitor — especially if you are interested in making a business, professional or career connection with someone visiting your profile. Who’d want to connect with someone who doesn’t seem to be “at home” or have something new and interesting to offer?
Equally important is relevance. It’s a simple concept: tailor the content of your profile to the needs and interests of the members and visitors who will see it. This means giving due consideration to the purpose and context of the network or community on which the profile is presented. To be relevant means keeping audience expectations in mind regarding both the content and frequency of updates.
A friend of mine notes that multiple daily updates about phone calls, coffee breaks and lunch destinations quickly become boring, tiresome and annoying. Too-frequent updates may drive serious, time-pressured professionals away from your profile. They don’t have time to wade through the trivial to find the valuable. For profiles on professional or career-oriented sites, favor relevance over extreme frequency.
This same friend pointed out an excellent example of a relevant “what am I doing” update: an announcement that someone “will be attending such-and-such event on dates xx – yy in location z and hopes to meet other attendees. Link, email, text or phone here.” (That sample is 136 characters, by the way.)
Consider all the ways this update offers relevant information. It announces your interest in a particular event, which a profile visitor might not know about. It indicates a level of commitment and involvement with a professional, industry or avocational organization or activity. It’s an opportunity to exchange information about the event, and an invitation to extend the connection into a face-to-face encounter. It shows you are pro-active about connecting and engaging with other people of similar interests.
Four More Professional Profile To-Be’s
Be selective. Consider which communities and networks offer the best match to your professional interests and goals, then make a special effort to create and maintain a fresh, relevant profile and an active presence on those sites.
Be involved. Don’t just post your resume and leave it at that. Participate in forum discussions, comment on blogs, rate content, answer surveys, add links, photos and other content — all of which will lead people back to your profile.
Be real. Establish a reputation for trust and transparency while staying within the bounds of appropriate behavior for a professional community.
Be generous. Don’t wait to be asked. Invite and welcome others into your community or network. Offer to collaborate on a virtual project. Answer questions — if you know the answers — or take the plunge and ask important questions to bring out the expertise in others. Point people in the right direction.
Two final items:
- When building your profile and online presence, keep in mind how hiring managers and recruiters use social media. It’s not as simple as you might think.
- For an over-the-top approach to using social media for a job search, check out Keith Ferrazzi on the Murphy-Goode Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent PR event
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