I have already discussed the essential need to network when it comes to getting ahead in the business world. That is, quite simply, the way in which most people are getting hired these days. I also stressed the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people beyond your established circle of friends and colleagues. Women have to do this in order to compete with men who are generally more expansive and aggressive when it comes to making those vital business connections. And, love it or hate it, social media is a major element of how we network now, both for business and pleasure.
Regarding social media, when it comes to pleasure, you certainly know what I’m talking about if you have ever had the slightest interest in pictures of babies, kittens, or some other cute and shareable attention-grabbing object. This is easy enough to grasp.
When it comes to business, know that social media is another tool that you can and should use to advance your career. Remember, as you work to get ahead, that you are a salesperson and that you are always on duty selling your product—that product, of course, is you. This includes all of your skills, accomplishments, education, promotions, awards, distinctions, patents—everything! Make sure that all of these positive qualities are readily found by someone who might want to connect with you or hire you!
I recommend that if you are going to have a meeting with someone, take just a few minutes beforehand to check out that individual’s LinkedIn profile. This will give you a leg up when trying to secure that business connection in person. (People love talking about themselves, so if you can ask a leading question about someone’s professional present or past to launch a networking meeting, it makes you look like a motivated person who takes initiative and understands how to do research.)
Social media platforms are powerful tools, but they are not without their downsides. There is no such thing as true privacy in the 21st century, but there are steps you can take to reduce the potential that you end up compromising yourself and your safety too much. Perhaps women have traditionally been more guarded than men when it comes to expanding their networks because women are more likely to be targeted and stalked. You want to make your achievements known and accessible, but you also want to maintain your privacy and protect yourself.
Here are some basic steps you can take to put yourself out there without sacrificing either your safety or the self-promotion campaign necessary to get ahead in your career:
- Don’t post anything, anywhere, and expect it to be private. Even posts that are deleted don’t actually ever go away.
- Build as much of a wall between your private and professional online lives as possible. Remember that your LinkedIn profile is like your online resume. Don’t fill it up with personal information that is irrelevant to your career. And if, say, you have a Facebook page for your business, make sure that you don’t inflate it with frivolous postings that belong on a page designed for just your friends to look at.
- Facebook, Google, and other social media platforms love for you to share your location when you’re out on the town. It’s all a part of their own broader marketing strategies. Be very wary of telling the world exactly where you are. I wish I didn’t have to say this, but stalkers who prey on women are happy to use any of the tools at their disposal to fulfill their nefarious missions. Don’t make it any easier for them!
The key to using social media effectively is to make it work for you and not against you as you move up the ladder in the business world. Love it or hate it, there’s no way you can ignore it.