Career Strategies Jul 01 2011

Ignore Social Media at Your Peril

By joseph walker

Twitter may have cost former Congressman Anthony Weiner his career, but when used properly, social media and other Web tools can actually help you get a job.

FINS spoke with Coleen Byrne, a former sales director at Yahoo, about the perils of not being on LinkedIn, reaching out to old friends and colleagues, and using the Web to network offline. Byrne is the co-author of The Web 2.0 Job Finder.

Joseph Walker: What are the mistakes people make in using social media for their careers?

Coleen Byrne: The number one mistake is ignoring social media altogether; it is such a powerful tool. Create a LinkedIn profile. It is easy to do and every Fortune 500 hiring manager I spoke with uses LinkedIn. Once you have a profile, keep it up-to-date. LinkedIn is a living and breathing resume, so even if you're not looking for a job, your online brand should always be current. Thinking that no one is looking at these sites is wrong.

You may not consciously be trying to build your online brand, but people are going to build their perception of you based on the information you put out there.

JW: How do you use social networking sites to further your career?

CB: Between 50% and 75% of jobs are filled through networking. Social networking sites allow you to broaden your reach and to access people beyond your immediate contacts and friends. This is extremely valuable because it increases the likelihood that you can build a relationship with someone who can help you, whether it be to land an interview, get your resume seen or gather information on a company.

JW: How has Web 2.0 changed the way we network?

CB: It's networking on steroids. You essentially have a searchable database of connected friends and contacts that's easily arranged and managed. Social networking sites allow you to keep in touch and connect with people you may not have tapped into in the last 20 years.

After my book came out, a college friend suggested that I reach out to another friend from school that I hadn't spoken to in over 20 years. This person, as it turns out, had also written a career-related book. I was able to connect again with this person and get some great advice.

Related: Old Friends the 'Holy Grail' of Networking

JW: How have things stayed the same?

CB: It's all about keeping that personal touch and connection. Social networking sites allow you to keep tabs and stay connected with your larger network. But continuing to have that connection, not just online, but through more personal experiences is key. A phone conversation or grabbing a cup of coffee, for example, can help you deepen and maintain your relationships. Technology will never be able to replace personal relationships.

Write to Joseph Walker

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