3 Ways to Make Social Media Work for You and Your Career

 IMAGE VIA  REKITA NICOLE

IMAGE VIA REKITA NICOLE

Gone are the days when social media was just about updating your status about how you spent your weekend and how much of a crappy day you had. If you checked social media profiles in my days of Hi5, Myspace and the earlier days of Facebook and Twitter, I guarantee you would have seen me ranting about some lecturer who I thought sucked or how much of an awful day I had after a long day. Oh, the mistakes we make in life. But over the last 3 years, I have gotten smarter about the use of social media and how it can potentially lead you to your next big 'thing' - whatever that thing is, a job or any opportunity that can change your life forever.

I spend more than 4 hours a day on social media. Whether it is joining Twitter chats, updating my profile, managing social media pages for others or scrolling through tweets and catching up with what's happening - or nowadays, finding ways to harness the power of social media data, which I will get into another time. Today, I have learned to harness the immense powers of social media and has turned it into my tool of 'making things happen.'

Social media has tremendous benefits once you know how to harness the associated tools and technology. Yes, social media is more than entertainment and getting up to gimmicks. It's a powerful tool and a great platform to grow your personal brand and your career. A perfect playing ground to establish yourself as a subject matter expert. Here I share three (3) ways you can use social media to work for you and your career and in case you haven't been harnessing the power of social media ... well, it's about time to get to work.

1. Add value by joining group discussions and participating in chats

Building your expertise in a particular area or have something you would like to contribute? An excellent way to establish yourself on a subject matter or prove your competence in a field is to add value by contributing to group discussions and Twitter chats.

For group discussions, LinkedIn is pretty much the best platform for this - as there are numerous groups for different subject areas, so many you can tap into any that interests you. Remember, it's your platform to share what you know while being open to learning from others and building your career and your brand.

If you are on Twitter or at the very least understand the platform, then you should possibly think about joining Twitter Chats. Twitter Chats are a great way to connect with dozens of people in real-time conversation within your industry or area of interest. While direct message and tweeting people are great, the real-time conversations give you an opportunity to engage others, share your knowledge on the subject matter being discussed as well as an invaluable opportunity to learn from others. New to Twitter and want to build your network? Joining Twitter Chats is an excellent way to get started. 

Quick Tip: Join groups and chats from recognized and growing brands that bring a vast and diverse following, where you can potentially meet experts in your industry. Also, ensure your contribution is relevant. Share what you know and be kind.

2. Discover and learn more using hashtags

One of the greatest things about social media is that it throws you into a haven that helps you to discover the possibilities of practically anything. Over the past years, hashtags have been heavily incorporated into almost everything, from network TV shows, campaigns, events, industries and yes, even in many persons everyday lives. The thing with hashtags is that they function similar to keywords that users can use to track trends, topics and conversations around a particular area. With the use of hashtags, it has helped to keep people in the know of social issues and events like #Fergusonwomen campaigns like #BringBacktheGirls and #HeforShe and tv shows like #Empire.

While Twitter is the most common place where people use hashtags to follow trends and conversations, other social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook are catching on and realizing the power of hashtags. Searching for jobs in your field, Twitter is a great place to look using hashtags - for instance, if I am looking for a job in the geospatial arena, I would use the hashtag #gisjobs - the same goes for other fields. 

Quick Tip: Use hashtags to your advantage by adding value to subject areas, to seek opportunities and the catch up with 'hot topics.'

3. Build powerful and meaningful connections

We are all aware of the power of networking and creating meaningful relationships. And with the power of social media, you have the opportunity to make connections with almost anyone from anywhere across the globe, with just the click of a button - yes, it's that easy, but it doesn't stop there.

The benefits of making 'virtual friends' are many, and the possibilities of making meaningful and lifelong relationships are immense. Social media is a great resource to reach out to a possible partner for your next venture. But making meaningful social media connections takes a little effort. It's more than clicking 'follow' or 'add as friend' - it's taking it a step further in a new and interesting way. For instance, maybe you have someone in mind you admire and who would love to work with, reach out to them. Sometimes sending someone a message letting them know who you are, why you admire their work and what you can bring to the table, will set you apart from others.

Building relationships online are easier but very similar to building them in person - people want to know, what you can bring to the table. Show them what you've got. Making connections on social media might be easy, but building that meaningful relationship takes time. Immediately asking someone to give you a job just because they think can, is probably not a good idea. Instead, make regular interactions and use your intuition to decide when you reach your comfort level with this person enough to be able to ask for favours. 

Quick Tip: Ask for what you want, but bring something to the table too. Make sure you can help others to be successful as well.

I can attest to the power of social media when comes to joining discussions, using hashtags and making connections - that's where I have met collaborators and built meaningful relationships both in my personal and career life.

Social media may provide us more ways we can connect - but it's how you do things - and once you have mastered how to use it to your advantage then, probably it will lead you to opportunities, you have never imagined. 

Quick Tip: Use social media to do things in new and exciting ways without being forceful.

Originally published on Linkedin.