Get into social media or limit your career potential

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While inappropriate online activity has been the undoing of countless professionals out there, many more have actually enhanced their careers by careful and strategic use of social media. In fact, by not having an online professional presence you may actually be sending a different message all together.

The title on your business card, years of experience and length of your CV will always demonstrate some degree of professional credibility, but social media experts have warned that the times have changed. Having a strong online presence is integral to establishing yourself as an expert in your field, managing your personal brand, and importantly, demonstrates a fluency in all things digital. “Status is much more democratic now. Expertise can be noticed more easily,” said Soumitra Dutta, a social media academic.

In order to best use social media to advance your career, you need to dedicate yourself to using it for professional purposes, set goals and ensure your so-called ‘digital footprint’ projects the image you want. “The opportunity to reach people directly is powerful, and still underexploited,” Dorie Clark, author of the forthcoming book What's Next?: The Art of Reinventing Your Personal Brand said.

Blogging or tweeting about a topic shows you're ‘in the game’. Even contributing a small amount of content can go a long way toward establishing you as an expert. “If you are passionate about a topic and argue your perspective in a compelling manner, you can begin to generate a following. Even if you aren't trying to be labeled as an expert, contribute to discussions you find interesting or you simply want to be part of,” said Dutta.

What you should be considering:

  • Assume everything you have online is visible to all parties, namely potential employers and current colleagues

  • Build your personal brand and establish yourself as an expert. When people peruse your social media activity, they get a sense of what you're about. The more you comment on or write about a certain area, the more likely you'll be affiliated with it

  • If you’re over 50, companies may be inclined to think you may not be competent in using social media and other digital tools. That’s why it’s integral you demonstrate your proficiency by actively participating in the digital space

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