The Secret to Fitting Social Media into Your Professional Life

Why doesn’t everyone have a social media strategy for their career?

There are two main reasons: not seeing the value and not having the time.

The value proposition has a simple answer. Our professional reputation increasingly influences how we get jobs, advance in our careers and navigate transitions.

The time equation is more difficult. We each have 24 hours in days that seem to get busier by the second. How can we make the most of our limited time to build our careers through social media?

Start by thinking about what you’ve done professionally over the last month.

Have you –

  1. Spoken at an event
  2. Attended a conference
  3. Taken a course, online or in person
  4. Traveled for a work meeting or event
  5. Joined a professional or trade group and attended a meeting
  6. Received an award for your work
  7. Completed a key project that can be shared in public
  8. Participated in a company-sponsored charitable event
  9. Seen an engaging video about your company or industry
  10. Found a valuable article about your company or industry
  11. Read a thought-provoking book about business or your industry
  12. Come across an interesting post by a colleague or your company

Why consider these activities?

VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk identified a simple and powerful strategy in his post, “Document, don’t create: creating content that builds your personal brand.”

Documenting is creating content, he says. It’s simply sharing your career journey and what you’re doing every day. And it’s easy to do because you’re “just being yourself.”

To look into the future of this documenting trend, check out the New York Times article Keeping Up, on Camera, Is No Longer Just for the Kardashians.

In everything you do professionally today, start by asking yourself if it can be shared publicly in social media. Make sure to never, ever share non-public and/or competitively sensitive information in social media.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution and don’t share. Even if you think something is okay to share in public, check that official company sources have shared the information publicly, or ask your supervisor for confirmation.

Career blogger Penelope Trunk said it well in her online course Reach Your Goals by Blogging. “Just don’t write anything near where your ‘security clearance’ goes,” she advised. While most people don’t have security clearances, this is an apt analogy to keep confidential information confidential. Don’t share it.

Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, then focus on what you’re doing, what’s interesting about it and why it could be valuable to your network.

What specifically in the course of your day, your week and your month could you share that builds the career brand you want to be known for?

Some of my colleagues do this really well. (This is where I remind readers that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

Here are just a few.

TeNita Ballard. TeNita is an enthusiastic champion of diversity and inclusion. She shares the events she attends, the people she meets and what she learns through posts in Instagram, Facebook and more.

John Starkweather. John is a big advocate for business customers. He shared his experience at the company’s recent tech conference The Summit in LinkedIn and Twitter. His posts make you feel like you were there.

Jennifer Van Buskirk. Jennifer leads the east region of the company. She shares leadership lessons she’s learned in her career in LinkedIn, along with the events she attends and speaks at in the course of her work.

Sarah Stoesser Groves. Sarah is a digital marketer who shares news and information her network can use. At The Summit she posted insightful video clips and sound bites from many of the speakers in LinkedIn and Twitter.

L. Michelle Smith. Michelle is a multi-cultural marketer. She’s a great source for the latest research and thought leadership on inclusion marketing through her posts in LinkedIn and Twitter.

Reflecting on the last month, here are some of the professional activities I’ve shared in LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. It only required taking a few photos and videos of the events and sharing key messages in my social networks.

They tended to be squeezed into the nooks and crannies of busy days as well as evenings and sometimes weekends, forming the public side of work-related activities that can be shared in social media.

Attended The Summit in Dallas as a marketing leader and participated on a team of social influencers to amplify the event’s messaging and reach, thanks to Sarah Groves.

Joined the Women’s Sports Foundation‘s annual salute gala in New York, thanks to Fiona Carter who is a member of the group’s board. It was inspiring to see so many strong female role models and spend time with colleagues.

Spoke at #WeGatherLA, the second-annual women’s leadership experience spearheaded by Otter Media President Sarah Harden, thanks to an invitation from Jennifer Cho and Katelynn Duffel. It was an amazing experience interviewing Helie Lee about her project Macho Like Me, when she lived life as a man for six months. Truly incredible!

Talked with visiting students from Howard University and North Carolina A&T University about how to build a career through social media, thanks to Grant Reid, along with John Willis and Kaleb Pask.

Participated in events at USC as a member of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors and USC Annenberg Alumni Advisory Board, thanks to Leticia Lozoya and Ashley Cooper.

Beyond building your career through social media, there are other benefits to documenting your professional life in social. You’re helping to build the brands of your company and your colleagues.

Employees are a trusted and credible source of information about their companies, according to Shel Holtz. Take that responsibility seriously and be sure you’re communicating in alignment with your company’s values, brand and social media policy.

And as we approach the end of the year and you summarize your key accomplishments, your social media feeds are a powerful input. They document many of your key accomplishments. You can add to quantifying their impact by the reach and the engagement of your posts.

As you head into a new week, what are you doing, experiencing and learning this week that you can share in social media?

How to Get Started with LinkedIn Status Updates

Feeling overwhelmed by studies saying you should post a daily LinkedIn status update?

Start with something more manageable. Spend a few weeks reading and responding to others’ status updates instead.

Take a few minutes each morning or during a lunch break to scroll through the updates in the “home” icon of your LinkedIn mobile app.

Why? Here are 5 reasons.

  • Notice which updates get the most interaction. What updates are getting multiple likes, comments and shares? What is it about the update that is so appealing?
  • Identify what types of updates you’re drawn to. This will help you not only formulate the types of status updates you’d like to share, but it will also guide you on format, tone and length.
  • Take note of cringe-worthy updates. Identify why these updates don’t work. Put them on your list of things-not-to-do in LinkedIn, along with updates that are personal, political or unprofessional.
  • Engage with your network. Tap the “like” button for posts you enjoy. Leave a brief, upbeat comment that congratulates your colleague and adds your point of view. Remember that any content you engage with reflects on you, your personal brand and your employer, so be sure to look before you like.
  • Expand the conversation. If the content aligns with your professional interests, share it with your network along with a brief comment from your point of view. Be sure to look before you link, reading the full update and any links before sharing. And if someone in your network would be interested in the update, mention their name in your comment so they’ll be notified.

Tip: Find your favorites

Over time, develop a list of people in your network who are reliable sources of information and insights.

Several of my AT&T colleagues consistently post valuable updates. Here are a few (along with my note that opinions expressed in this blog are my own) . . .

  • Steve McGaw posts timely updates on the latest technology for business.

Who are the people at your company or in your network who are valuable go-to sources of news, information and inspiration? Check out their updates often to see what you can learn as well as share with your network.

Bonus tip: Create a strategy for the appearance of “Your Activity”

Check out how your likes, comments and shares appear in the mobile version of your LinkedIn profile. Under “Your Activity,” the 3 most recent interactions appear, with the most current one first (on your laptop, the 6 most recent interactions appear). What do you want to display on top?

Think about who you’re meeting with for the first time today. They may pull up your LinkedIn profile before, during or after your conversation. Consider what you want them to see.

You could like, comment on or share content relevant to your meeting topic. You could check out what status updates the person you’re meeting with posted recently. You could like, comment on or share those updates as appropriate.

What’s your strategy for engaging with your network’s status updates?