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Using Social Media to Network: A Novice's Opinion


Let me preface this article by stating I am by no means an expert in social media. I do not have personal accounts, other than LinkedIn. I do not understand Facebook and I can barely use my smart phone camera let alone an application like Instagram. But I can say this: social media is a great networking tool that must be taken advantage of, especially by Veterans returning to the workforce.

I wrote an article regarding LinkedIn and want to reiterate the importance of presenting yourself professionally and accurately. All too often, LinkedIn compiles lists of "people I may know" which includes people from a variety of industries, educational backgrounds, and geographic regions. While I want to connect with as many people as I can to grow my professional network, I cannot connect with someone who has the following on their LinkedIn page:

  1. Embellishment
  2. Misspellings
  3. Tacky tag lines
  4. Inappropriate photos (including "selfies")
  5. Affiliations with organizations that do not seem to exist

LinkedIn is, most likely, one of the first items a potential employer will research before scheduling the interview, or with the background check. What does your LinkedIn page say about you?

I have been asked how LinkedIn is beneficial to the establishment of a professional network. A LinkedIn profile is helpful for the following reasons:

  1. Puts you in touch with industry leaders and change agents
  2. Showcases trends, trends, and more trends
  3. Connects you with individuals, groups, and companies where your educated opinion can be heard, valued and potentially recruited.

As you look to connect with individuals, think about what value their connection has in your professional goals. Empty connecting for sake of reaching a number or thinking that you appear more knowledgeable about everything is a surefire way to nowhere. LinkedIn is not a popularity contest. There is no superlative for acquiring the most connections.

When looking to connect with someone, think about the following:

  1. Does this person and/or group align with my professional goals?
  2. Does this person and/or group apply to the industry I am looking to enter or currently work in?
  3. Does this person and/or group complement my education and experience?
  4. What can I contribute to this person and/or group?

My personal opinion is that we always need to be thinking about what we contribute to others, not just what we can extract from them.

I hope you find these few opinions worthwhile. As always, I welcome feedback, including on my own LinkedIn page!


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